The history of
Christmas tree ornaments.
The history of
Christmas tree ornaments are connected to the history of the Christmas
Today’s Christmas tree has its origin in Germany.
According to old guild references, they can be traced back to the 16th
The Christmas tree tradition came to Scandinavia from Germany at the
beginning of the 19th century.
The prison director Richard Petersen in Christiania describes a
Christmas tree at miss Weinshenck’s as
early as 1822.It was only at the end of the 1800s Christmas trees were
in widespread use.
The oldest known pleated paper ornaments are from the 1840s.
They were pleated from one piece of paper and only had room for a single
nut or raisin.
They are complicated, and are not used today.
The pleated ornaments consisting of two pieces originated in the second
half of the 1800s in
Denmark of Germany. The oldest existing heart-shaped ornament was made
by the Danish poet
H.C. Andersen in the 1860s. It was probably not made for a Christmas
These paper ornaments have not been used outside Scandinavia. Even
though we may buy Christmas
ornaments today at our heart’s content, homemade paper ornaments are
still a living tradition.
decorations from Beate Lindseth’s collection.
Beate G. Lindseth ( b1962) is a teacher and is specialized in arts,
crafts and history.
She has collected models of paper Christmas decorations for several years.
She also makes them herself, and has an interest in the history of these
ornaments. She has written and is now presenting the book Julekurver.
Lindseth uses these ornaments in her work as a teacher both in arts and
crafts and maths, and to
give the pupils an understanding of traditions.
She has since 2000 held many courses, combining the making of ornaments
with talks on the history
of Christmas tree ornaments. She is constantly increasing her knowledge,
and has also collected source
material from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
It is difficult to find sources on this subject.
No museums in Scandinavia have systematically collected Christmas
Since “everybody” makes them, people have not taken care of them.
The owners saved the decorations they regarded as most valuable.
Paper decorations are very fragile, and are easily destroyed.
Thes consequence of this is that existing collections are very uneven,
and thereby do not refl ect what people actually put on their trees.
Through Danish pattern books, older magazines, photos, postcards and
Lindseth found more models she has drawn on paper and then pleated.
Today Beate Lindseth has a collectionof about 1000 paper decorations.
There are three main groups:
• Models that are similar in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Many of these
can be traced back to
patterns and instructions dating from the period 1871-1924. Many of the
patterns come from geometric
shapes. Well-to-do people bought pattern sheets, while the servants and
others were allowed
to copy them or made them from memory. Many variations on the same model
• Designed paper decorations. In Denmark they have made several books
with models over the years.
• Decorations Lindseth has made herself.