The Fascinating History of Christmas Ornaments: A Journey Through Time and Cultures

The Fascinating History of Christmas Ornaments: A Journey Through Time and Cultures

As we approach the festive season, our thoughts often turn to the act of decorating our homes for Christmas. Central to this annual tradition are the ornaments that adorn our Christmas trees. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the origins of these beautiful decorations? Journey with us through the fascinating history of Christmas ornaments, including the intriguing story of mercury glass ornaments.

The Birth of Christmas Ornaments

The practice of decorating Christmas trees started in Germany in the 16th century, though the trees were adorned with edible decorations like apples, nuts, and dates. The concept of using ornaments as we know them today didn't come into play until the 19th century.

The first man-made Christmas ornaments were produced in Lauscha, Germany, a town renowned for its glassblowing. Initially, these ornaments were glass baubles, but the craftsmen soon started to produce other shapes, including fruits, nuts, and figures.

The Emergence of Mercury Glass Ornaments

In the mid-19th century, a new type of ornament began to gain popularity - the mercury glass ornament. Despite the name, mercury was never used in their production. These ornaments, also known as silvered glass, were produced using a technique of blowing double-walled glass and filling the space between with a silver nitrate solution, giving the ornaments their characteristic shiny, reflective appearance. The process was labor-intensive, requiring skilled craftsmanship, which added to the allure and value of these decorations.

Christmas Ornaments Around the World

As the tradition of decorating Christmas trees spread across the globe, different cultures began to incorporate their unique ornaments and decorations.

In Mexico, intricate tin and metal ornaments are often made by local artisans, while in India, zardozi embroidery, an ancient Persian art form, is used to create elaborate, hand-sewn ornaments.

In the United States, ornaments took a different turn in the early 20th century with the advent of mass production. The first American-made glass ornaments were created by Corning Glass Company in the 1930s, which could produce more than 2,000 ornaments per minute using machine automation.

In Russia, the Christmas season is typically adorned with "New Year's toys", which include various figures and scenes from Russian fairy tales.

The Significance of Christmas Ornaments

Beyond their decorative appeal, Christmas ornaments often hold significant meanings. They serve as symbols of good luck, love, and goodwill. In many cultures, specific ornaments are believed to bring good luck in the coming year. For instance, in Germany, it is considered good luck to find a pickle ornament hidden in the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.


The evolution of Christmas ornaments reflects our innate desire to celebrate, beautify, and ascribe meaning to our surroundings during the festive season. So, this Christmas, as you hang your ornaments, remember that you are not only continuing a centuries-old tradition but also adding your unique chapter to the unfolding story of Christmas ornaments.

Whether it's a delicate mercury glass bauble, a hand-sewn Indian ornament, or a mass-produced shiny ball, each ornament holds a piece of history and represents a cultural tapestry that adds to the magic of Christmas.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.