One of the most popular festive decorations is certainly the Christmas tree. Be it real or artificial, it is usually the biggest ornament and gets by far the most attention.
In the 1600s, Christmas trees were decorated with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers. Over time, candles were added to light it up. It also became customary to add sugar ornaments such as candy canes. On the other hand, the Russians had a very particular way of decorating the tree. Banned after the October Revolution, the Christmas tree was re-instated as a symbol of the New Year rather than Christmas. For them, the star on top of the tree became symbolic of the Red Star and not the Bethlehem Star. They decorated it with various figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, astronauts and characters from Russian fairy tales. After the fall of the USSR this custom was kept and to date the New Year still outweighs Christmas in popularity.
Nowadays, the most common decorations for the tree are baubles, tinsel, garlands and ribbons as well as small Christmassy figurines like angels, snowmen, robins, etc. Fairy lights – be they either in one colour or mixed up with coloured lights to brighten it up – also play a central role in the decorations.
However, rather than selecting ornaments and decorations ad hoc, one can get more creative and select a colour theme for the tree. For instance, if the colour red is chosen, decorations can be selected accordingly. Red baubles, red garlands and tinsel. One can then add velvet or satin ribbons and flowers to add texture. Sometimes, red is paired with gold to make the tree look more elegant. An angel or Bethlehem star is usually selected as a tree topper. This too can be selected according to the theme chosen.
A tree skirt to hide the Christmas tree stand is the final touch. Some skirts are quite smart with embroidery trimmings. Others can sport a brightly printed nativity scene or any other Christmas-related picture.
When everything is done, all that is left is for presents to be placed underneath the tree!