History of Russian Christmas tree decorations

  • Mon 12 2018
  • by intermark

History of Christmas tree decorations in Russia

The first Christmas tree decoration in Russia was designed to demonstrate abundance, so Christmas trees were decorated with burning candles, apples and dough products. And in order that the tree became bright and sparkling, people added shining decorations: tinsel, thin metallic threas, sequins. Combined with the burning candles, the effect of the play of light made the green beauty even more radiant and solemn.

Glass toys

The first glass toys: balls, beads, spherical mirror objects in the form of searchlights and icicles appeared on Russian Christmas trees in the middle of the XIX century. They were heavier than modern ones because they were made of thick mirror glass. Initially, most of the glass ornaments were foreign-made, but very soon the production of Christmas tree decorations opened in Russia.

One of the very old Russian customs was to decorate the spruce with women’s jewelry – glass beads. The whole family would participate in creation of beads: glassblowers would make the spheres, women would die them and children would put them on strings. This craft got really widespread in the Klin district, where later,  in 1848, Prince Menshikov founded the glass factory for three furnaces with 80 workers for the production of lamps, bottles and colored glass products.


Post-revolurionary times

After the revolution, the government liquidated private enterprises, but the glass-blowing industry remained. Artisans joined together in a cooperative, the craft became economically strong that they opened a factory school for glassmakers in the village Vozdvizhenskoe!

A creative variation in the search for new forms, excellent feeling of the material, the mastery of new methods of blasting allowed in addition to the traditional beads to master the production of balls, icicles and, for the first time, glass toys in shape of fairytale heroes.

A clear result of creative imagination is samovars, kettles, made in the national artistic traditions and carrying semantic content. Among the various kinds of products an important place is occupied by figures that embody the world of animals and are the characters of many fairy tales. The work of masters of glass-blowing craft, based on historical places of existence, does not disappear, while maintaining consistency and loyalty to the style directions, enriched with new facets of decor.


Klin Glass Factory & Museum

One of the attractions of the Moscow region is the only Russian Museum of Christmas toys “Klinskoye podvorie” (eng: Klin Farmstead) and the famous factory of Christmas toys “Yolochka” (eng: Christmas tree). The Museum consists of 12 halls that will tell you about the origin and development of glass crafts in Klin. You will find yourself in a new world with a rich history of Christmas toys and watch the difficult work of master glass blowers and talented artists.


Entering the glass-blowing shop, you will be able to observe the process of “birth” of a glass toy. The craftswoman, rotating the glass tube-drot with two hands, heats it in the flame of the gas burner until the glass becomes soft, and begins to blow through the hole in the tube. Then, a piece of glass transforms into a ball, bell or heart.

In the painting hall, you will see how artists draw kind smiles to their Grandfathers Frosts, lay “snow” on the roofs of fairy houses, sprinkle them with “gold” and “silver”.

There is also a music hall in our Museum – the Nutcracker’s Hall. It is decorated with elegant Christmas tree from the fairy tale “the Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The world-famous composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky lived in Klin for some time, and he wrote his most famous works there. And it was here that he finished working on the music for the ballet “the Nutcracker”.

Christmas toys from the 1940s-60s are presented in the next room. It was a difficult time for our country – the war and the postwar years. Christmas decorations of that time were made in the form of stars, planes and airships with symbols of the USSR.

Of course, the Museum presents modern glass toys as well. It is impossible to take your eyes off this brilliant beauty!

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