Who Invented Christmas Tree Decorations?

Many people feel that decorating a Christmas Tree is an essential part of the Christmas festivities. If you have wondered where these magical trinkets were first made, they are attributed to skilled craftsmen in the little town of Lauscha, in central Germany. They are still made there today – a wonderful winter break would be to take a trip to Lauscha and watch how the glass blowers create these timeless decorations. There is an increasing interest in these fragile, beautiful objects and in order to bring them home safely, you’ll benefit from good travel insurance. You might even want to take an extra suitcase and  bring back a few boxes for heirloom gifts! Christmas decorations are often handed on to the younger members of the family and vintage glass baubles are increasingly sought after.

close up of christmas decorations

The Home of the Original Glass Bauble

The town of Lauscha, Thuringia Region, is in central Germany.  Lauscha became known for expert glass blowing in the 12th Century – producing fine goblets and bowls. Thuringia was able to supply the two key essential elements for glass – there was plenty of good timber and access to sand. Techniques and styles for tree decorations began to develop around the late 1840’s;  two craftsmen,  Christopher Muller and Hans Grierer began blowing glass decorations in apple, orange and walnut shapes. To make the inside of the bauble reflect  light, they were originally painted with a frightful mixture of lead and mercury! It was later discovered that sugar water and silver nitrate produced an equally effective reflective surface which was unlikely to poison anyone – not the case for it’s predecessor!

The Tradition Begins

Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, is believed to have initiated the traditions of Christmas that English people still follow today. Prince Albert brought a fir tree into the royal home and encouraged his family to decorate it with glass baubles, ribbons and candles.  This was reported in the London News, and the trend was set – everyone who could afford it, bought a tree, and decorated it too. Lauscha was put on the map, as being the best town to buy decorations; business links were developed and vast numbers of decorations were exported to America and Europe. FW Woolworth for instance, made a considerable part of his fortune on sales of Christmas decorations.

After World War II, many of the family owned operations in Lauscha were taken over by the State, but some companies reformed when the Berlin Wall was removed. There are approximately 20 glass companies back in business in Lauscha so there is plenty of choice. A gift set of hand made glass baubles will be long treasured, so pack them carefully and they’ll be enjoyed for many years to come.