Christmas tree, 1930s
Oh dear, another Christmas post! Click away if you are tired of it! I promise not to be dissapointed!
If you think about trees from bygone era's, you undoubtedly think about tinsel; the sparkling and decorative material that gives the effect of ice or icicles. It was in Nuremberg Germany were tinsel was invented and this was around 1610. It was made from extruded strands of genuine silver. But silver tarnishes quite quickly and the silver was replaced by other shiney substitutes. Tinsel was not only used as Christmas tree decoration but also on other decorations that needed a bit of a shimmer, like fireplace garlands or statues. Candlelight and fireplaces were the primary method used to lightning homes, so reflective surfaces were often used to maximize the light. Early tinsel was made from metal and was fragile and expensive to use. Until 1900, it was a status symbol to use the glittery decoration. Tinsel was also to represent a starry sky over a nativity scene.
In Britain, after queen Victoria died, the country went into mourning and the Christmas tree died with her in many homes for a while. Some families had still large tinsel strewn trees but many opted for a table top tree. The word for tinsel in Germany is 'das Lametta' which is a diminutive form of the Italian word Lama, which means 'blade'. The word tinsel is from the Old French word Estincele, which means 'sparkle'. France was the world leader in manufacturing cheap aluminium based tinsel until WWI, but production was curtailed during the first World War as a result of wartime demand for copper.
In WWII tinsel was also used to make unsilvered Christmas ornaments sparkle. The tinsel would be tucked inside the ornament. They are really collectible. Most of the time their caps have been replaced with metal ones; usually these ornaments have cardboard caps.
Our tree is decorated with Lametta but sadly not real old ones. And although I love the look of it in our tree, I do made the conclusion that the tinsel of nowadays doesn't have the charm of tinsel back in the 1930s. It doesn't hang as pretty as the German originals did also.