Holiday Ornaments: Classic

Holiday Ornaments: Classic

Anne Reagan
Dec 16, 2011

The holidays are the perfect time to show off your love of tradition. Even staunch modernists have been known to throw away their minimalist rules for something that reflect fond childhood memories or traditional, cultural designs.

Classic Christmas decorations for the tree can mean many things to many people. For some this means going back to their ethnic roots, perhaps decorating in the style of the old country. For others this may mean decorations that reflect a certain era, showcasing memories from Grandma and Grandpa's home, their childhood or a design that is fitting with the architectural style of their home. Others choose to combine classic treasures from various sources. After all, for many of us our tree is a treasure trove of memories, a time capsule reflecting years upon years of joyous celebration and fastidious collection.

The history of Christmas tree decoration is vast and has, like most styles, seen ebbs and flows of popularity. In the 11th Century fir trees were left outside and decorated with apples to represent the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Christmas trees migrated back indoors when, in 1521, Princess Hélène de Mecklembourg married the Duke of Orleans and brought one with her to Paris. "So popular did this custom become that the area of Alsace started to run out of pine trees and a law was passed to limit their use to one per house."

In the 17th Century Christmas tree decorations were mostly white and red however Christmas markets in Europe carried colorful paper flowers, gingerbread shapes, wax figures, candles and candy - all for the indoor tree. And tinsel was made from real silver stretched thin and cut into lines.

In the 19th Century hand-made crocheted decorations and baskets to hold candy were popular. The Victorian era saw more elaborate and large trees decorated with blown glass ornaments, electric lights as well as presents hung from branches and placed underneath the tree. The 1950s and 1960s saw the boom of artificial trees made from various materials (plastic, feathers, metal) and a wider variety of electrical lights with a multitude of colors and flashing. Nowadays people have eco-conscious ideas when it comes to tree decorations. Pioneer-style decor such as cranberries and popcorn strands, walnuts hung from string, paper drawn decorations, straw woven together into shapes...there are so many ornaments that can reflect an old-fashioned, DIY style.

Whatever "classic" means to you we hope your tree reflects your family's favorite style. Here are few resources for gathering "classic" ornaments:

Ebay: perfect for finding vintage decor, glass-blown ornaments and antique pieces. If you're interested in collecting ornaments from a particular country or era this is a great place to start.

Etsy: If you're looking for homemade ornaments (glass ornaments, wood, crochet, vintage, etc.) this is the place to go. It's like an old-fashioned Christmas market but super-sized and international.

Martha Stewart Living: the queen of DIY as well as collecting, this is a great resource for those interested in vintage pieces (how to collect, what to look for and how to store). For an example read this article.

Information above gathered from "History of Christmas Decorations"

Image credit: Vintage Ornaments from TagSaleFinds on Etsy

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