Monday, December 14, 2009

Baubles & Pixie-lights…

A little sparkle at this time of year…

Hi Guys,

Today I figured I would follow on the thoughts regarding the legends of the Christmas Tree from a couple of days ago and ask the question, why do we decorate our Christmas Trees?

Nowadays foiled tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree, but these are relatively recent developments in our choice of décor for them.

Back in the late 19th century in the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest especially in Lauscha, delicate mould-blown and painted coloured glass Christmas ornaments were a speciality and are now a large industry, complete with famous-name designers.

Back in the days of the early Christmas Trees, they were often lit by candles, but nowadays we see few of them lit with candles and more lit with electric lights, or fairy, or pixie lights, as we call them, usually topped off with a tree topper, traditionally either an angel or a star, to complete the full ensemble.

Silvered saran-based tinsel was introduced, which many have found to be unsatisfactory, since it did not drape well, leading to the demise of tinsel in tree decorating in the United States, although it remains popular in many European countries.

Baubles can also often be seen as decorations on the trees, and they are usually made from a small hollow glass or plastic sphere coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective akin to mirrors, which are then treated with a further coating of a thin-pigmented polymer in order to provide colouration. Nowadays some of these baubles can be quite large in comparison to the older ones.

We have seen a return in recent years to more traditional beaded glass baubles, made into a multitude of shaped objects, such as animals, vehicles, or Christmas icons, or very finely made glass baubles, harking back to the nostalgia of days gone by.

Every household will have many different decorations, which will all vary widely depending on the ages of those residing there and the fashion of the moment too. They will consist of a most eclectic mix of both personal tastes and those of family traditions with some decorations being passed down from generation to generation. Passed down from a parent or grandparent even a small unattractive ornament, may come to carry many happy memories and be of huge emotional value giving the bauble a place of pride on the tree.

Professional designers, working in-house for department stores and other institutions will usually have a "theme" when decorating their trees. This may entail a set of predominant corporate colours, or just a coordinated set of colours for the season, multiple instances of each type of ornament, which could carry the company logo, or the logo of one a number of the supplier companies, or licensed products and much larger decorations then those used in the home, which may be more complicated to set up correctly and quite possible need more space to exhibit, as a result.

In the USA some churches decorate with Chrismon trees, which use handmade ornaments depicting various Chrismon symbols, although in the main traditional decorations are seen most often.

Many people also decorate outdoor trees with lighting and some folks do so with food that birds and other wildlife will enjoy, such as garlands made from unsalted popcorn or cranberries, orange halves, and seed-covered suet cakes.

Nowadays at home, my family and I decorate our trees with more “Olde Worlde” looking fare; with natural and organic decorations, such as pinecones, bundles of cinnamon sticks, holly, rustic garlands and the like, so they look just like the ones you would expect to see outside. Our trees outside on the front are usually decorated with white fairy lights and icicle lights adorn the front canopy across the front of the house too. We also have a traditional three, or four-foot high snowman, that the neighbour’s children love us to put out, alongside some other ground level animated lights in the shapes of Santa and his Reindeer, etc.

The above décor we now use ourselves is a return I suppose to those first Christmas Trees, which were used way back when in Germanic homes a few centuries ago.

Until next time have fun!

Tim Perkins…

December 14th 2009

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