A Christmas decoration is any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmastime and the greater holiday season. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Blue and white are often used to represent winter, or sometimes Hanukkah, which occurs around the same time. Gold and silver are also very common, as are other metallic colours. Typical images on Christmas decorations include Baby Jesus, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and the star of Bethlehem. Typical winter icons include snowflakes, snowmen, icicles, and even penguins and polar bears.[ citation needed ]
Christmastide is a season of the liturgical year in most Christian churches. In some Christian denominations, Christmastide is identical to Twelvetide, a similar concept.
A pine is any conifer in the genus Pinus of the family Pinaceae. Pinus is the sole genus in the subfamily Pinoideae. The Plant List compiled by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanical Garden accepts 126 species names of pines as current, together with 35 unresolved species and many more synonyms.
In botany, an evergreen is a plant that has leaves throughout the year that are always green. This is true even if the plant retains its foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season. There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs. Evergreens include:
In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent.Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a Hanging of the Greens ceremony. In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas decorations are removed are Twelfth Night and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations. Taking down Christmas decorations before Twelfth Night, as well as leaving the decorations up beyond Candlemas, is historically considered to be inauspicious.
Advent Sunday, also called the First Sunday of Advent or First Advent Sunday, among the Western Christian Churches, is the first day of the liturgical year and the start of the season of Advent.
Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis. Although the term liturgy is used to mean public worship in general, the Byzantine Rite uses the term "Divine Liturgy" to denote the Eucharistic service.
A parish church in Christianity is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish. In many parts of the world, especially in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events. The church building reflects this status, and there is considerable variety in the size and style of parish churches. Many villages in Europe have churches that date back to the Middle Ages, but all periods of architecture are represented.
The Christmas tree was first used by German Lutherans in the 16th century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Cathedral of Strassburg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer.In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees." When decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897. Professor David Albert Jones of Oxford University writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus. In discussions of folkore, some claim that the Christmas tree is a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the winter solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship; according to eighth-century biographer Æddi Stephanus, Saint Boniface (634–709), who was a missionary in Germany, took an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Thor and pointed out a fir tree, which he stated was a more fitting object of reverence because it pointed to heaven and it had a triangular shape, which he said was symbolic of the Trinity. However, the English-language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the early reign of Queen Victoria. The influential 1840s image of the Queen's decorated evergreen was republished in the U.S, and as the first widely circulated picture of a decorated Christmas tree in America, the custom there spread. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as a spruce, pine or fir, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Northern Europe. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia, and in early modern Germany where Protestant Germans brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
Protestant Reformers were those theologians whose careers, works and actions brought about the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
Martin Bucer was a German Protestant reformer in the Reformed tradition based in Strasbourg who influenced Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican doctrines and practices. Bucer was originally a member of the Dominican Order, but after meeting and being influenced by Martin Luther in 1518 he arranged for his monastic vows to be annulled. He then began to work for the Reformation, with the support of Franz von Sickingen.
Figural glass Christmas ornaments originated in the small town of Lauscha, Germany in the latter half of the 19th century.The town had long produced fine glassware. The production of Christmas ornaments became a family affair for many people. Some families invested 16 hours a day in production. For some, it was their sole source of income.
Lauscha is a town in the district of Sonneberg, in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated 13 km north of Sonneberg, and 24 km southwest of Saalfeld. Lauscha is known for its glassblowing, especially for Christmas tree decorations like baubles.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Sometimes competitions were held. Prizes were awarded to the family producing the finest examples. Santa Clauses, angels, birds, animals, and other traditional Yuletide subjects were favorites.
F.W. Woolworth discovered these glass ornaments on a toy and doll buying trip to Sonnenburg, Germany in the 1890s. He sold them in his "five and ten cent" stores in America. The ornaments were said to have contributed to Woolworth's great business success.
For the American market, figures were blown depicting comic book characters as well as patriotic subjects such as Uncle Sams, eagles, and flags. Glassblowers have held on to the old molds. Glass ornaments are still created from these old molds.
A clear glass tube is heated over an open flame. It is then inserted into a mold. The glassblower then blows into the end of the tube. The glass expands to fill the mold. The glass takes on the shape of the mold. It is cooled. A silver nitrate solution is swirled about inside the ornament. This gives the ornament a silver glow. The outside of the ornament is painted or decorated with metal trims, paper clippings, etc.
Cotton batting Christmas ornaments were popular during the years of the German Christmas toy and decoration boom at the turn of the century. They were exported in large numbers to the United States. These decorations suggested puffs of snow. Fruits and vegetables were popular subjects and often had a realistic appearance. African American and patriotic characters were fashioned for the American market. Some ornaments were used to hide boxes of candy.
Assembling these decorations was a cottage industry. Cotton batting was wound around a wire frame resembling a human or animal. A face was either painted on or a lithograph cut-out was affixed to the batting. Figures were given crepe paper costumes. Some were touched with glue and sprinkled with flakes of mica for a glittering appearance.
Dresdens are three-dimensional ornaments. They are made of paper, card, or cardboard. Dresdens were produced mostly in Dresden and Leipzig, Germany, from the 1860s to WWI. They were originally priced between 1 and 60 cents. Subjects included animals and birds, suns and moons, humans, carriages and ships, etc. Some Dresdens were flat, allowing the buyer to collect them in scrapbooks.
Positive and negative molds were set into a press. A moistened sheet of card was put into the press. The images were pressed. When they had dried, they were sent to cottage workers for the finishing touches. This involved separating the form-halves from the card, trimming ragged edges, and gluing the two halves together. The form was then gilded, silvered, or hand-painted. Sometimes a small gift or sweet was put into the form. Forms were usually no larger than five inches.
Popular Christmas plants include holly, mistletoe, ivy and Christmas trees. The interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. These often come with small ornaments tied to the delicate branches, and sometimes with a small light set.
Wreaths are made from real or artificial conifer branches, or sometimes other broadleaf evergreens or holly. Several types of evergreen or even deciduous branches may be used in the same wreath, along with pinecones and sprays of berries, and Christmas ornaments including jingle bells. A bow is usually used at the top or bottom, and an electric or unlit candle may be placed in the middle. Christmas lights are often used, and they may be hung from door or windows, and sometimes walls, lampposts and light fixtures, or even statuary. Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas.
In North and South America, Australia, and Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures. Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well. Christmas banners may be hung from street lights and Christmas trees placed in the town square.
In the Western world, rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious Christmas/winter/Hanukkah motifs are manufactured for the purpose of giftwrapping presents. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, garland, stockings, wreaths, snow globes, and angels. Snow sheets are made specifically for simulating snow under a tree or village.
In many countries a representation of the Nativity scene is very popular, and people are encouraged to compete and create the most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom. Some churches also perform a live Nativity with volunteers and even live animals.
One of the most popular items of Christmas decorations are stockings. According to legend, Saint Nicolas would creep in through the chimney and slip gold into stockings hanging by the fireplace. Various forms of stockings are available; from simple velvet ones, to sock-shaped bags to animated ones.
Christmas decorations are typically put up in late November or early December, usually to coincide with the start of Advent. In the UK, Christmas lights on the high street are generally switched on in November. [ citation needed ]In the U.S., the traditional start of Christmas time is Thanksgiving. Major retailers put their seasonal decorations out for sale after back to school sales, while smaller niche Christmas Stores sell Christmas decorations year round.
In some places Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5 or January 6. The difference in this date is due to the fact that some count Christmas Day as the first day of Christmas, whereas for others Christmas Day is a feast day in its own right, and the first full day of the Christmas Season is December 26. In Hispanic and other cultures, this is more like Christmas Eve, as the Three Wise Men bring gifts that night, and therefore decorations are left up longer.[ citation needed ] The same is true in Eastern Churches which often observe Christmas according to the Julian Calendar, thus making it fall 13 days later.
In England, it was customary to burn the decorations in the hearth, however this tradition has fallen out of favour as reusable and imperishable decorations made of plastics, wood, glass and metal became more popular. If a Yule Log has been kept alight since Christmas Day, it is put out and the ashes kept to include in the fire on the following Christmas Day.A superstition exists which suggests that if decorations are kept up after Twelfth Night, they must be kept up until the following Twelfth Night, but also that if the decorations for the current Christmas are taken down before the New Year begins, bad luck shall befall the house for a whole year.
In the United States, most stores immediately remove decorations the day after Christmas, as if the holiday season were over once the gifts are bought.[ citation needed ] Nearly all Americans leave their home decorations up and lit until at least New Year's Day, and inside decorations can often be seen in windows for several days afterward.
Christmas in Poland is a major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Christian world. The observance of Christmas developed gradually over the centuries, beginning in ancient times; combining old Polish pagan customs with the religious ones introduced after the Christianization of Poland by the Catholic Church. Later influences include mutual permeating of local traditions and various folk cultures. It is one of the most important religious holidays for Poles, who follow a somewhat strict traditional custom. Christmas trees are decorated and lit in family rooms on the day of Christmas Eve. Other trees are placed in most public areas and outside churches. Christmas in Poland is called "Boże Narodzenie", which translates to 'God's Birth'.
A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs, or various materials that is constructed to form a ring.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus. In most Western ecclesiastical traditions, "Christmas Day" is considered the "First Day of Christmas" and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January, inclusive. For many Christian denominations—for example, the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Church—the Twelve Days are identical to Christmastide, but for others, e.g., the Roman Catholic Church, Christmastide lasts longer than the Twelve Days of Christmas.
The Advent wreath, or Advent crown, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is traditionally a Lutheran practice, although it has spread to many other Christian denominations.
Twelfth Night is a festival in some branches of Christianity that takes place on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, marking the coming of the Epiphany. Different traditions mark the date of Twelfth Night on either 5 January or 6 January, depending on which day one considers to be the first of the Twelve Days: 25 or 26 December.
Christmas lights are lights used for decoration in celebration of Christmas, often on display throughout the Christmas season including Advent and Christmastide. The custom goes back to when Christmas trees were decorated with candles, which symbolized Christ being the light of the world; these were brought by Christians into their homes in early modern Germany.
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is one of Germany's oldest documented Christmas markets. Founded as a one-day market in 1434, it celebrated its 584th anniversary in 2018 which makes the Striezelmarkt one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. Its 240 stands attract about 3 million visitors from all over the world. The annual market lasts throughout the Advent season until Christmas Eve.
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is an early episode in the life of Jesus, describing his presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem in order to officially induct him into Judaism, that is celebrated by many Christian Churches on the holiday of Candlemas. It is described in the Gospel of Luke of the New Testament in the Christian Bible. Within the account, "Luke's narration of the Presentation in the Temple combines the purification rite with the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn ."
A tree-topper or treetopper is a decorative ornament placed on the top of a Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush. Tree-toppers can take any form, but the most common shapes are a star, finials, angels, or fairies. Other tree-toppers include paper rosettes, ribbon bows, Father Christmases or Santa Clauses, Christian crosses, owls, spikes and sunbursts.
Christmas ornaments, baubles, "christmas bulbs" or "Christmas bubbles" are decorations that are used to festoon a Christmas tree. Ornaments take many different forms, from a simple round ball to highly artistic designs. Ornaments are almost always reused year after year rather than purchased annually, and family collections often contain a combination of commercially produced ornaments and decorations created by family members. Such collections are often passed on and augmented from generation to generation.
Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40. In accordance with Leviticus 12: a woman was to be presented for purification by sacrifice 33 days after a boy's circumcision. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas–Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night, those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year; for Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as the Light of the World.
An Advent candle is a candle marked with the days of December up to Christmas Eve. It is typically used in a household rather than a church setting: each day in December the candle is burnt down a little more, to the mark for the day, to show the passing of the days leading up to Christmas. As with reusable Advent calendars, some Advent candles start marking the days from 1 December, rather than the exact beginning of Advent. Some households will make a Christmas decoration out of sprigs of evergreen and Christmas ornaments, with the candle at its centre; others will simply put it in a candlestick. It is usually burned at the family evening meal each day.
Christmas pyramids are Christmas decorations that have their roots in the folklore and customs of the Ore Mountain region of Germany, but which have become popular internationally. They comprise a decorated pyramidal outer frame with candle holders and a central carousel with a rotor at the top which is driven by warm air from the lit candles. The carousel is decorated with nativity scenes and other Christmas figures such as angels and wise men, as well as worldly motifs such as mining folk and forest scenes.
A Chrismon tree is an evergreen tree often found in the chancel or nave of a church during Advent and Christmastide. The Chrismon tree was first used by North American Lutherans in 1957, although the practice has spread to other Christian denominations, including Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, and the Reformed. As with the Christmas tree, the evergreen tree itself, for Christians, "symbolizes the eternal life Jesus Christ provides". However, the Chrismon tree differs from the traditional Christmas tree in that it "is decorated only with clear lights and Chrismons made from white and gold material", the latter two being the liturgical colours of the Christmas season. The Chrismon tree is adorned with Chrismons, "ancient symbols for Christ or some part of Christ's ministry: the crow, descending down, fish, Celtic cross, Jerusalem cross, shepherd's crook, chalice, shell, and others." Laurence Hull Stookey writes that "because many symbols of the Chrismon tree direct our attention to the nature and ultimate work of Christ, they can be helpful in calling attention to Advent themes."
Weihnachten is the observance of what is commonly known in English as Christmas Eve in the German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is also widespread in countries with a German-speaking minority, such as Transylvania in Romania, South Tyrol in Italy, Eupen in Belgium, and various diasporas such as the German Brazilian and German American communities. Traditions of Weihnachten influenced Christmas and Advent culture throughout the world.
The hanging of the greens is a Western Christian ceremony in which many congregations and people adorn their churches, as well as other buildings, with Advent and Christmas decorations. This is done on or directly before the start of the Advent season, in preparation for Christmastide. The service involves the placement of evergreen vegetation in the parish. Items such as the evergreen wreath, in Christianity, carry the religious symbolism of everlasting life, a theological concept within that faith. As such, during the liturgy, "Biblical passages and other readings help explain the significance of the holly, the cedar, the Advent wreath, the Chrismon tree, and any other special decorations". Christmas trees are frequently erected during the hanging of the greens, although they are sometimes left bare until Christmas Eve.
Christmas in France is a major annual celebration, as in most countries of the Christian world. Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday in France being celebrated on December 25, same as the United States and other countries.
Advent – The four weeks before Christmas are celebrated by counting down the days with an advent calendar, hanging up Christmas decorations and lightning an additional candle every Sunday on the four-candle advent wreath.
Christmas in Sweden starts with Advent, which is the await for the arrival of Jesus. The symbol for it is the Advent candlestick with four candles in it, and we light one more candle for each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Most people start putting up the Christmas decorations on the first of Advent.
Another popular activity is the "Hanging of the Greens," a service in which the sanctuary is decorated for Christmas.
Any Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night (January 5th) should be left up until Candlemas Day and then taken down.
The Christmas tree as we know it seemed to emerge in Lutheran lands in Germany in the sixteenth century. Although no specific city or town has been identified as the first to have a Christmas tree, records for the Cathedral of Strassburg indicate that a Christmas tree was set up in that church in 1539 during Martin Bucer's superintendency.
The Christmas tree became a widespread custom among German Lutherans by the eighteenth century.
German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravians put lighted candles on those trees.
Many Lutherans continued to set up a small fir tree as their Christmas tree, and it must have been a seasonal sight in Bach's Leipzig at a time when it was virtually unknown in England, and little known in those farmlands of North America where Lutheran immigrants congregated.
The eight-pointed star became a popular manufactured Christmas ornament around the 1840s and many people place a star on the top of their Christmas tree to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
Christmas is the occasional of family reunions. Grandmother always has the place of honor. As the time approaches for enjoying the tree, she gathers her grandchildren about her, to tell them the story of the Christ child, with the meaning of the Christ child, with the meaning of the Christmas tree; how the evergreen is meant to represent the life everlasting, the candle lights to recall the light of the world, and the star at the top of the tree is to remind them of the star of Bethlehem.
The same ambiguity is seen in that most familiar of angels, the angel on top of the Christmas tree. This decoration, popularized in the nineteenth century, recalls the place of the angels in the Christmas story (Luke 2.9–18).
His biographer, Eddius Stephanus, relates that while Boniface was serving as a missionary near Geismar, Germany, he had enough of the locals' reverence for the old gods. Taking an axe to an oak tree dedicated to Norse god Thor, Boniface chopped the tree down and dared Thor to zap him for it. When nothing happened, Boniface pointed out a young fir tree amid the roots of the oak and explained how this tree was a more fitting object of reverence as it pointed towards the Christian heaven and its triangular shape was reminiscent of the Christian trinity.
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