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Ever wondered how people around the world decorate their Christmas trees?
If you’re a little bored of the usual tinsel and baubles, why not take inspiration from how the rest of the world decorates their Christmas trees? From edible decorations, spooky spiderwebs or even Christmas trolls, Celebrity Cruises has revealed the most fascinating traditional tree decorations unique to 12 countries from around the world.
Red apples in France
Hundreds of year ago, real fruit was used to decorate trees across France. However, it’s said that after a bad harvest one year there was a lack of fruit to decorate with, so glass ornaments were made to recreate them. Hanging red apple decorations are especially used on French Christmas trees as they are also linked to religious symbolism from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Sparkly spiderwebs and spiders in Ukraine
One of the more unusual Christmas tree decorations from around the world are spiderwebs and spiders which are regularly seen on Ukrainian trees. Not a hangover from Halloween, these pretty spiders and webs are used to celebrate a famous folktale. There once was a poor family who couldn’t afford to decorate their Christmas tree, a Christmas spider was said to have decorated the tree with spiderwebs that tuned to gold and silver on Christmas morning meaning that they were never poor again. Glittery webs and spiders are seen nestled in trees across the Ukraine in the hope to bring similar good fortune.
Popcorn on a string in the USA
Retro images of American families decorating their Christmas tree often include delicate strings of popcorn draped across the branches. This decoration was very popular in the 50s and 60s, though many American still adorn their tree with these lines of popcorn today. The origin is said to be from when outdoor Christmas trees were decorated with food for birds and other wildlife, but Americans liked the look so much that they continued to use them even when Christmas trees were brought indoors.
Shell ornaments in Australia
Due to the summer season in Australia, decorations for the nation’s Christmas trees tend to have much less of a wintery feel with less of an emphasis on snow and ice. For example, you’ll often find shells adorning the branches of Christmas trees down under. These can be in varying styles, either kept simple or made more festive with glitter and embellishments.
Straw ‘himmeli’ in Finland
These geometric structures have been a staple in Finland for generations. Traditionally made from rye straw, they were hung above dining tables at Christmas and remained there until Midsummer as they were said to bring a good harvest. They have stayed popular over the years and can be seen on the trees of many Finnish homes, in a variation of different materials and colours. In fact, the chic and minimal look means that they have become particularly popular on Pinterest.
Homemade paper hearts in Denmark
Known in Danish as julehjerte, these classic decorations are made simply by pleating and plaiting red and white paper to create a heart. These can then be filled with nuts or sweets and hung from the tree. The oldest known example of one of these hearts was made by none other than Hans Christian Anderson, and can still be seen today at the museum of his name in the city of Odense in Denmark.
Garlands of national flags in Sweden
So proud are Swedes of their national flag, that they hang garlands of them around their Christmas trees. It’s not uncommon to also see the flag, with its gold Nordic Cross, emblazoned on baubles and other ornaments but it’s the classic bunting-like garland that is the most traditional of all.
Yule Lads decorations in Iceland
Rather than Father Christmas, in Iceland children are visited by 13 Christmas trolls – also known as the Yule Lads. During the 13 days before Christmas, kids put a shoe by their bedroom window and a Yule Lad will leave a gift. These can be sweets, small presents or even rotting potatoes (if they’ve been naughty). These 13 iconic figures of Christmas can also be seen as decorations on Christmas trees across Iceland.
The folk figure, Nisse, in Norway
This character is known throughout the Nordic countries, but in Norway he goes by Nisse. Nisse is a mythological creature, no bigger than 90cm tall with a long white beard and very large red pointy hat, who lives in attics and stables of families in Norway. There are many legends surrounding them, but at Christmas they are particular known for bringing children gifts if they’ve been good. As the festive season approaches, the charming figures can be seen already across the country including on the nation’s Christmas trees.
Real candles in Germany
Germany is the origin of a great many Christmas traditions, however candles might be one of their most famous. Real candles have been traditionally used on German Christmas trees for many years, legend has it that Protestant reformer Martin Luther was the first to do it in the 16th century as he wanted to recreate a starry Christmas Eve sky. The look is still popular today, however in the interest of safety we’d only recommend using electric versions, which still look just as enchanting.
Kerstkransjes biscuits in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands at Christmas, you’ll find delicious treats on their trees called kerstkransjes, biscuits in the shape of Christmas wreaths tied to branches with red ribbon. A buttery cookie base, they can be decorated in many ways but you’ll mostly see almond and chocolate versions. It’s a common occurrence in many Dutch households that these tasty ornaments will be nibbled away before Christmas Day, leaving just the red ribbon behind.
Origami birds in Japan
Christmas is not a widely celebrated holiday in Japan, in fact it’s considered a normal working day! However, this hasn’t stopped those in the country who do celebrate to put their own spin on the festive traditions. More shops in Japan are stocking Christmas items now, but many years ago there weren’t many places to buy decorations. This is why origami birds are common place on many Japanese Christmas trees, as they could be made easily at home.
How will you be decorating your Christmas tree this year?