The History of the Christmas Tree Toppers

Primitive Decorations - Tree TopperPlacing a decorative tree topper at the crown of a Christmas tree is a beloved holiday tradition. Although angels continue to be the most popular tree-top trimming; stars, Santas, snowflakes, bows, elves, and any number of patriotic-themed, sports-oriented and other pop culture symbols have also gained popularity through the passed few decades.

Whether simple or ornate; made of shiny metal, glass, plastic, fabric, tin, or porcelain; passed down generation after generation or changed every year, Christmas tree toppers are a cherished finishing touch to most Christmas trees.

The History of the Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree actually predates Christianity by centuries.  Ancient Romans decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, their winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.  Modern Christmas trees appeared in the middle 1500’s. The trees were sold at local markets and set up in homes without ornaments. The oldest record of a decorated Christmas tree came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg. This early version of the Christmas tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies.

The custom of the Christmas tree was introduced in the United States by Hessian troops during the War of Independence. An early account tells of a Christmas tree set up by American soldiers at Fort Dearborn, Illinois, in 1804.

The History of the Christmas Tree Topper

The history of the angel tree topper goes back to the Victorian era in the mid-1800s, when Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert were credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle − decorating the tree with angels, tinsels, silver wire ornaments, candles, and small beads. Queen Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done by this beloved Royal Family immediately became fashionable – not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious east coast American high society.

Popular Christmas Tree Toppers

In the Christian tradition, the most popular tree toppers reflect images from the Nativity story. A star atop the tree symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star, which is the star that led the wise men, known as the Magi, to Bethlehem and revealed the birth of Jesus. The Magi followed the star that stopped above the location where Jesus was born. The angel symbolizes the host of angels, angel of the Lord, or heavenly host that proclaimed the news of the birth of Jesus to the world on the eve of his birth.

Some other contemporary religious movements celebrate the winter solstice by decorating an evergreen tree, a symbol of continuing life, with non-Christian symbols and choosing tree toppers representing the sun.

Piper Classics carries a wide variety of Christmas and other winter décor, including ornaments, greens and other festive primitive decorative elements.

With all the seasonal decorations to choose from at Piper Classics, asking: “what is your favorite topper?” might be a very difficult question to answer.