Christmas Traditions in Germany

The History of the Christmas Tree Ornaments

The History of Christmas

A holiday that is celebrated in many countries annually. So, What is it about? There are decorations, including trees, lights, and gifts. Finally, we learn the meaning of the day as a religious one, but where did it all begin? Why was a tree chosen as a symbol and what does it represent? One of the most well-known theories is that an English monk named St. Boniface went to Germany in the 7th or 8th century. He became the Apostle of the German people and he brought a fir tree to them. St. Boniface started the belief that the shape of the fir tree was a symbol of the holy trinity. Which includes God, his son Jesus and the holy spirit. This started the history of Christmas.

German Christmas Decorations

Religious Germans appreciated the traditions and began decorating their tree’s in a ritualistic manner. First, they started with plain white candles. This simple decoration began to evolve in the 15th century. In Latvia, a representation of the Virgin Mary was incorporated in the decorations by adding roses. This is said to be the beginning of the latest Christmas decorations. In Strasbourg, in 1605 a tree was brought indoors and lined with roses, lights, wafers, and candies. A new trend of German Christmas decorations began. About 5 years later tinsel was created with pure silver. The tradition carried over to England and the decorations were even more elaborate. These new fancy decorations featured glass beads and hand-sewn snowflakes.

In the first ten years of the 1800s, decorations were edible trees as well as, decorated with delicious fruits and nuts. Before long, various types of fruit were hung on the trees along with streamers and shiny foil. Thus began the season of lights and merriment. German Christmas decorations included gingerbread, the U.S. starting hanging strings of cranberries and popcorn. The U.K. made ornaments with lace, paper, and other things.

Glass Christmas ornaments

Families created their own ornaments before the 1800s. The only ornaments that could be purchased in Germany were cast lead and hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments. Glass makers in Lausha started making glass ornaments for the larger market. These ornaments sold immediately and most families got involved with ornament production. Since then, Germany had a monopoly on glass ornaments. Since Most handblown glass ornaments were purchased exclusively from Germany. F.W. Woolworth started importing German ornaments into the U.S. in the 1880s. He sold about $25 million worth of the ornaments within ten years. In Dresden, a city near Lauscha, the artisans made nonglass, bright-colored ornaments in animal shapes.

Not to mention, These ornaments were made out of pressed and embossed paper. as well as a few other ornaments made from pressed tin and tinfoil strips. The strips were called icicles or tinsel and were a big hit in Germany. As the 1920s came by, Japan and the Czech Republic entered the ornament market and started introducing more colorful designs and fancy ornaments. So, the market saw growth with a few pioneers leading the way.

When World War I happened, the glass ornaments from Germany were greatly affected as collateral. However, the market recovered after the war, all the same, Max Eckhardt, a U.S. businessman associated with the glass ornaments felt that a second war would be too risky. He then decided to team up with F.W. Woolworth and they convinced the Corning company of N.Y. to use their light bulb making machine to also create glass ornaments. This process was a success. By 1940 the Corning company was creating glass ornaments on a larger scale than Germany was able to. They would then ship them to other companies to decorate. Eckhardt was able to start his All-American company, Shiny Brite.

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Just as Eckhardt suspected, glass ornaments took another big hit after WWII and the materials for making the glass ornaments had to change. The inner silver lining was changed to pastel colors and the metal cap was changed to cardboard. After WWII F.W. Woolworth and his competitors were the main sellers of Christmas tree ornaments and decorations. The sales were driven by the complex designs and varieties of the ornaments available. The Lausche glassworks became state-owned entities after the war. There would be more productivity, and the fall of the Berlin wall had caused firms to be re-established as private companies. Today there are about 20 small glass-blowing companies active in Lauscha. Glass Christmas tree ornaments still exist today, however, most ornaments are now made of plastic. They are available in various colors and shapes and are sold globally.

How glass Christmas ornaments are made

How Christmas Ornaments are made

How Handmade Glass Christmas Ornaments Are Created

Blowing glass is a process where molten glass has been stretched out. Glassmakers use tools that help them blow air into the glass. The Phoenicians created this process around 50 B.C. The first documented glassblowing was in the town called Jerusalem.

Many items, like handmade Christmas ornaments, can be made during the process of glassblowing. What makes these handmade items, such as handmade Christmas balls, look very impressive. You might ask? It’s the type of glass that is used to make them and the expertise of the people that make them. German glass is typically used to make these items.

The reason that this glass is so popular is that it is easy to mold and it has a beautiful texture and shine. It’s not difficult to mold and can be made into many different shapes and sizes as well as into attractive and colorful glass. So, Christmas ornaments are made and purchased to hang on their Christmas trees. These types of glass can also be used to make different ball-shaped ornaments. This includes bright colors like gold, blue, teal, red, and orange.

 The Process of Making Handmade Ornaments

The process of making handmade ornaments is very detailed. To create Handmade Christmas ornaments/ Christmas balls, the modern glassblower starts by using a tube of glass that suppliers manufacture. Then they can cut or melt the tubes into the amount that they need to make a certain ornament. The next step is to spin the tube on top of a torch. Which runs on gas which makes part of the glass softer and maintained at a relatively consistent temperature. Here are 4 steps to crafting them.

Step 1:

When the glass is ready to be molded, the glassmaker will open the mold by pushing or pulling a foot lever downward. The molds could be made out of a lot of different materials like plaster. They can have traditional or shapes that have a lot of detail etched into the mold by laser beams. Soft glass is placed inside the mold as the tool that blows air puts air into a pipe that blows glass. This is done to stretch the glass out so it will fit into the mold.

Step 2:

The glassblower has to complete this task within three seconds. Because, as soon as the glass comes into contact with the mold, it cools off and takes shape. The final product has all of the details of the mold and is known as hard casting. It also has a good amount of tubing (also known as a stem) that is put on the top of it which is similar to a stiff toy puppet being on a stick.

Step 3:

The next step consists of injecting a silvering solution into the stem and swirling it. Which is done so it coats the interior of the handmade Christmas ornaments. If a person is making a translucent ornament, they do not have to inject the silvering solution. A translucent ornament only takes the color of the paint that is on the outside. So, it’s less of a quality that makes it reflect. The last part of this step is dipping the silvered solution in a white undercoat and is left to dry.

Step 4:

The paints that are used on these ornaments take a long time to dry and can run together. For this reason, they have to be painted in a hopscotch fashion. Which leaves the areas around them spotless until the areas that have been painted have dried. The glassblower paints those areas later. The decorations that are used on these ornaments are glitter and Ballo. Ballo is a substance that looks like fine sugar crystals are put on the handmade Christmas balls and ornaments after the paint is fully dry.

The final step is when a person that cuts glass is then used to separate the ornament and the stem and the top that is known as a catch is kept in place on the stub that remains. Tags and unique packaging to let people know what is in the box are placed. “Ornament safe” is added prior to the glass Christmas ornaments being shipped off. You can also buy Christmas ornaments online.

The Future of Handmade Christmas Balls and Ornaments

The business of designing and making handmade Christmas balls and ornaments is a very successful business. New shades of color, brand new and intelligent designs, as well as people starting to love how unique the hand-blown and ornaments with a lot of design are again and how popular Christmas is are the main contributors to this success. Not only do ornaments become treasured family heirlooms and keepsakes, but there are collectors that look for ornaments so they can have them on display all year round.

Making ornaments that are beyond the traditional Christmas themes has made Christmas ornaments even more popular. The themes of modern-day Christmas ornaments included animals that are on the bridge of being extinct, characters from books, tree toppers that are very detailed, rainbows for AIDS awareness, and disease awareness ribbons as well. Along with the United States, the other countries that produce handmade ornaments are Czechoslovakia, Russia, and Italy.

Design houses regularly have events where collectors may have a meet and greet with the people that design ornaments to get them to sign them and designers only making a few of their ornaments ensures their collectibility and their value. By combining strong traditions as background and creative and talented artists leading the world of new ornaments, glass ornaments are at the foremost of the business that takes place during the holiday season. The popularity of these ornaments is increased by the fact that people can buy Christmas ornaments online so they do not have to leave their homes to get the ornaments that they want.

The process of designing and making handmade ornaments has become very popular. The tradition and sentimentality of these ornaments make them one of the best parts of the Christmas season.