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Christmas Tree Ornaments

Other than Santa Claus, one of the most central figures at Christmas time is the tree. But not just because itís a tree. Itís admired for the way in which itís decorated, a practice that over the last thousand years or so, has become an elaborate affair, and often a family ritual each year.

Various sources and cultures are credited for bringing the tree indoors. Jewish people used evergreen boughs for decoration, as did the Ancient Romans. Evergreens were seen as a symbol of eternal life, since they never dropped their leaves or needles. It is thought that the first symbolism connected with a tree indoors for Christmas, was that it represented the Paradise tree, the one from which Eve and Adam took the apple. Thus, the first decorations were real apples, hung from the branches. This tradition started in Germany in the Middle Ages. Eventually, communion wafers were added to the decorations. Then sometime around the first of the 17th century, Martin Luther reportedly used a tree to teach his children about the Holy Trinity and eternal life, using candles as examples. That was the birth of lighting trees, and candles would remain an integral part of Christmas tree ornaments for over two hundred years. In 1882, one of Thomas Edisonís assistants decorated the first electrically lit tree, but the cost was out of sight. Even when the first strings were sold to the public in 1903, they still cost a weekís salary. Over the years, lights for trees have gone from large 7w bulbs, to smaller 5w bulbs, and nowadays, the twinkle or fairy lights are preferred both for the energy savings and because they donít dry out a real tree as fast.

The main focus of your tree is usually the topper. There are some scurrilous (but quite funny) stories about how the angel got on top of the tree, but the truth is that the original figure put there was a Baby Jesus, later replaced with the Angel who brought glad tidings, or the star that guided the Wise Men to Bethlehem. In Victorian times, the angel at the top was a doll that was often given to children afterwards.

The first Christmas tree ornaments were actually expensive for many people who could not afford the fresh apples, oranges and other treats that were hung from the branches. As a result, German ingenuity saved the day once more. In the mid-19th century, Hans Greiner began blowing glass ornaments in the shape of the fruits and nuts he could not afford. With their silvery inside, they soon caught on as a Christmas favorite, and his ornaments along with others who joined in the rush, expanded to encompass other shapes, including the ubiquitous round ball.

Today, ornaments cover a wide and wonderful array of shapes, themes, colors and materials. You can find Christmas tree decorations for the collector of almost anything from angels, to dogs, cats, or nutcrackers, along with sets of figures or pieces that represent someoneís favorite pastime like Poker King Christmas ornaments, Western Christmas ornaments, and even golf themed decorations.

Your tree can be a masterpiece of Victorian ornaments, single or dual color-themed balls and ribbons, or that wonderful hodgepodge of family treasures that is only acquired through years of thoughtful gifts and childhood creations.

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