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The Fascinating History of Christmas Ornaments

Glass ornaments Christmas tree lights and Christmas bulb Piernik ornaments in Poland Christmas ornaments, also known as baubles, globes, or Christmas bulbs, have been a beloved part of Christmas traditions for centuries. These decorative items...

Glass ornaments Glass ornaments

Christmas tree lights and Christmas bulb Christmas tree lights and Christmas bulb

Piernik ornaments in Poland Piernik ornaments in Poland

Christmas ornaments, also known as baubles, globes, or Christmas bulbs, have been a beloved part of Christmas traditions for centuries. These decorative items are used to adorn Christmas trees and add a festive touch to the holiday season. From glass and plastic to ceramic and metal, ornaments come in various materials and styles. Let's explore the fascinating history behind these cherished decorations.

Invention

The origin of Christmas ornaments can be traced back to the small German town of Lauscha in the mid-16th century. It was here that the modern-day mold-blown colored glass ornament was invented. The process involved skilled artisans blowing heated glass into clay molds to create intricate shapes. The ornaments were then coated with a silver nitrate solution, hand-painted, and topped with caps and hooks.

Blown glass baubles for sale in Tlalpujahua, Michoacán, Mexico A fully decorated Christmas tree

Export

The popularity of Christmas baubles quickly spread beyond Lauscha. Glassblowers in the town began producing a wide range of designs, and soon, Germany as a whole started purchasing Christmas glassware from Lauscha. The trend gained international recognition when a picture of Queen Victoria's Christmas tree, adorned with glass ornaments and baubles from Germany, was published in a London newspaper. Lauscha began exporting its products throughout Europe, and its ornaments became highly sought after.

Mass production

The mass production of Christmas ornaments began with William DeMuth, who created the first American-made glass ornaments in New York in 1870. Woolworth's, a renowned American store, started selling Lauscha glass ornaments in 1880, making them accessible to a wider audience. Other stores followed suit, and the demand for Christmas ornaments soared. New designs, including Dresden die-cut fiberboard ornaments, became popular, especially among families with small children.

Post-World War II

After World War II, most of Lauscha's glassworks were turned into state-owned entities by the East German government, leading to a temporary halt in bauble production. However, when the Berlin Wall fell, many of the firms were reestablished as private companies. Today, approximately 20 small glass-blowing firms in Lauscha continue to produce baubles, with Krebs Glas Lauscha being one of the largest global producers of glass ornaments.

Modern baubles

While glass baubles are still produced, plastic ornaments have gained popularity due to their affordability and wide availability. Nowadays, baubles come in a vast array of shapes, colors, and designs. Poland has emerged as a leading producer of glass bombe (bauble) ornaments, which are exported worldwide. Other countries, such as Mexico, also contribute to the production of glass-blown Christmas ornaments.

Handcrafted ornaments

Handcrafted Christmas ornaments have become a staple of craft fairs and online businesses. From sugar cookies and popcorn balls to gingerbread and various cookies, edible ornaments add a delightful touch to holiday decorations.

Types and References

Christmas tree ornaments are just one of the many ornament types available for adornment. If you're interested in learning more about different types of ornaments or exploring related topics, consider looking into:

  • Christmas tree
  • Pleated Christmas hearts
  • Snow baby
  • Tree-topper
  • Witch ball

For further reading, you may want to check out Robert Brenner's article "German glass ornaments in America" in the Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter.

*Please note: The original article contains additional sections that are not relevant to the main topic of Christmas ornaments.

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