Preparations for the New Year celebration are nearing the finish line: in a couple of weeks with the splashes of champagne and happy kids' chatting we will welcome 2017! The answer to the presents question is obvious (wool outfit with penguins or tulip-brooch will makeboth mothers and kids happy), but the decoration of the main attraction of the holiday is not decided yet, as every family has their own traditions:some prefer artificial X-mas tree, while others choose a real one, some give precious decorations from parents to children, and others have just started a collection of their own. This is why we turned to the beginning of the traditional decoration of the Christmas tree and remembered how and with what the tree used to be decorated at various times in various corners of the world. It can happen that our trip in history will inspire you for experimenting!
The tradition to decorate the tree comes from Germany. Even in 16th century families adorned the tree with nuts, fruits and candles, and after the celebration shared the decorative treat with animals in the streets. The decorated fir tree is the symbol of 'ever young goodness', never fading nature - it'sloan translation meaning'Christmas Tree' from German Weihnachtsbaum. The second meaning of this word is the Christmas Eve, Weihnachtsabend in German, i.e. the day of the Chirstmas tree, its celebration with dancing and games around it. Gradually people from other places in Europe took over this tradition, but Germany kept the leadership in both making and designing the Christmas tree decorations, quick in response to fashionable trends. For example, after The Nutcracker ballet by P. Tchaikovsky Germany again was seized with the fashion for functional decorations like soldiers, kings, woodcutters and miners, although the hanging nutcracker has been known from the Roman times. With emblematic beards andpainted pink cheeks the nutcrackers got thousands of admirers, and German Steinbach still makes collector's items. Old German toys are valued by the collectors, being searched for on eBay and carefully given to descendants.
It is hard to believe, but before the middle of 19th century there was no tradition to place aChristmas tree at home in Russia. Only after 1840 because of the German influence (thank you, Herr Hoffmann!) the Christmas tree appears in the citizens' homes. It is decorated with fruits and sweet toys, apples and tangerines, candles and sparkles; with a star as the main decorativeitem, the symbol of the blessed light in European tradition, piercing the world after the Christmas. Itis, ofcourse, somewhatcontradictorytothe orthodox origin of the Russian culture, but nevertheless the Christmas tree has become an integral part of the Russian lifestyle.In USSRthe Star of Bethlehem was replaced with a red star, which still remains the New Year symbol of modern Russia: even now the main Christmas tree in the Kremlin has a red star on the top. As for the decorations, we all remember and love sharp-pointed glossy icicles, fragile multi-coloured balls, glimmering snowflakes, Farther Frost and Snow Maiden up-to-the-waist in cottonwool, glowing lights and rustling tinsel.
In England the fashion for the Christmas tree was introduced by Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, by decorating the first 'English' tree in Windsor Castle 1841 with jewelry, candles, sweets, fruits and gingerbread. The tradition was followed in other families, and in 1850, according to Charles Dickens, Christmas trees in homes were lit with lights and decorated with dolls, tiny furniture andmusicalinstruments, toypistols and swords, candies and fruits. The tradition stroke root and didn't change for years.
At first Americans didn't like the idea to decorate the Christmas tree, but at the end of 1800s they gladly did so using popcorn garlands or Christmas pastry. The tree stem was made either of cast iron or wood; regardless of the material the tree was decorated with red velvet. It is interesting to note, that Europeans preferred small trees, while Americans chose bigger ones.
In middle 1800s German craftsmen made decoration items of glass, wood and silver, shaped like fruits, hearts, stars and angels. At the end of 1880s America was seized by the fashion for such decorations, which had appeared in every American city being imported from Germany by businessman Mr. Warford. At the same time home made items of textile or other materials become popular: made of wire, pressed tin, craft paper and cardboard, as were shown in magazines.
Startingfrom 1930,ChristmasinAmericahasbecomeabigbusiness: Montgomery Ward catalogues of Christmas decorations appeared, trading malls made seasonal Christmas corners with a big abundantly decorated Christmas tree and Santa Claus, the window shops had Christmas displays, the center of which has become Lionel toy railway, children's dream even nowadays.
Decorating the Christmas tree at home Italians tend to general European traditions, preferring monocolours (with both balls and garlands being of the same colour). The situation is much more interesting with the outdoors trees.
Since in 1950s aluminium trees of silver, pink or purple colour with colour-chagingbright stem came into fashion, the artificial trend has been popular in Italy.Thus in Gubbio, a city in the province of Umbria, in 1981 there was created a Christmas tree, which has been in the Guinness Book of Records since 1991: the structure stands on the slope of Mount Ingino and is made of 550 multi-coloured lights with a one meter star on the top. Italians like fancy Christmas trees and give way to imagination. Trees made of coloured polypropylene pipes, thin straws, plastic bottles - all these were in Italian cities' the main squares. It is interesting, with what will they surprise us next time?