What are those ball ornaments on my tree called?
The traditional spherical ornaments you see on a multitude of Christmas trees are called baubles. They were created in Lauscha, Germany by a man named Hans Greiner (1550-1609), who made them from glass. Baubles were based on the original decoration material for Christmas trees- fruits and nuts.
They grew in popularity in the early 1800s, and many glassblowers started to create more of them. They remained Germany’s little secret until the 1880s, during which an American named F.W. Woolworth discovered the Lauscha baubles, and imported them to make a profit. He was the Thomas Edison of ornaments.
By 1910, they had gained widespread popularity in America. Over 1000 stores in America were selling these ornaments.
Bauble manufacturers have departed from using traditional glass. They are still manufactured, however they now use plastic instead of the original glass.
A company made ornaments out of a light bulb machine during World War II
Corning Glass teamed up with a company called Shiny Brite to mass-produce ornaments. Max Eckhardt, founder of Shiny Brite, had been importing glass from Germany to use for these ornaments, but due to World War II, there was much reason to believe our supply from Germany would be cut off, and so Eckhardt used an alternate method. He teamed up with Corning Glass, who made ornaments using a modified version of the process they used to make light bulbs, and shipped the products to Shiny Brite factories to be decorated by hand.
At first, the traditional metal hook was used, but as the war went on, the companies shifted to using a cardboard tab, to which you would attach a string. This is why nowadays you have the two different ways of hanging these baubles.
The White House Historical Association (WHHA) creates unique ornaments every year
Every year since 1981 the WHHA have created an ornament. There are 36 ornaments so far. The majority of these ornaments have designs that honor particular presidential administrations. The latest of these ornaments honors President Herbert Hoover, who was the thirty-first president of the United States. These ornaments are in the shape of fire trucks, to honor the trucks that responded to a fire on Christmas Eve in 1929, the first year of the Hoover Administration. Other past ornaments have honored major anniversaries for the White House. The 1992 ornament was designed to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the construction of the White House. The 200th anniversary of the presidency was celebrated in 1989, and an ornament was created for that historic milestone. The very first ornament has a design that has nothing to do with the White House: a weather vane from a Universalist Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Each ornament comes with a pamphlet, from which you can read about the presidential administration that the ornament commemorates.
Proceeds made from people buying these ornaments go to the White House for the purpose of maintaining and buying artwork and furniture for the historic rooms in the White House.
George W. Bush’s Secret Talent
There are two paintings created by President George W. Bush that were made into ornaments for the Bush Center. Both paintings are of birds: the 2014 painting is of a Texas mockingbird, and the 2013 ornament is of a cardinal.
Ornaments were a huge part of the ancient Egyptian culture
“In ancient Egypt, wealthy people enjoyed wearing ornaments on their bodies because this showed their higher social class,” said Ornaments with Love. They were also worn by warriors. When a warrior was defeated in battle they had to give their ornaments to the victor- “to the victor goes the spoils” as the old adage goes. These Egyptian ornaments showed power and status in society. They were made of varied materials. To ordinary people they were symbolic of protection from disease and other tragedies, and they were ways to win someone’s love or to impress others. Ornaments have been important not only in Christmastime, but have been used in these other ways throughout history.