popcorn garland

The Food Traditions of Christmas Ornaments

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Christmas Food Ornaments
The tradition of popcorn and berry garland was birthed in the United States.

Did you know that ornaments are supposed to be different every year? That’s right, Christmas ornaments are meant to be a board-overview symbolizing memories of Christmas over the years. The earliest ornaments were apples, used during the 1800s. Eventually paper streamers with bits of shiny metal foil were added as an effect to make the Christmas tree reflect light.

Until the latter part of the nineteenth century, Christmas trees were decorated with any household odds and ends, varying by country. Americans, for instance, would string long strands of cranberries or popcorn to circle their trees. Small gifts began to be used to decorate the tree, some times containing tiny intricately woven baskets, or at times just hanging by a thread or a piece of yarn.

In the UK, creative ornaments of lace, paper or other materials showed the variety of interests and talents of their makers. Small “scraps” cut out of newspaper or magazine illustrations also found their way to the family’s tree.

In the late nineteenth century, German glass blowers, in the area around Lauscha, began  blowing Christmas themed glass strictly for the holiday. Initially replicating fruits, nuts and other food items, they soon branched out and began to manufacture hearts, stars and other shapes that, prior to, were created out of cookies. However, now it had the added dimension of a wide color palette enhanced by the luminosity of the glass itself. Eventually the glass blowers began creating molds of children, saints, animals, and famous people. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s, F.W. Woolworth began to import the German glass ornaments at a value of 25- million.

In many countries there are still special ornamental traditions today. Here are a few of the ornament traditions:

In Germany there is the pickle ornament, placed on the tree first by the parents. The story goes that the child who finds the pickle first (normally the most observant one) would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas.

In Lithuania, Father Christmas spreads grain on the floor and children must perform a special song or dance on this grain so they may receive their presents.

In Argentina instead of placing gifts under a tree presents are put into shoes.

Article written by Jasmine Gore