Christmastime is absolutely my most favorite time of the year. I love when October rolls around and the stores start converting their aisles for the holidays. Our Christmas trees come up from the basement, I plan out our Christmas countdown, I start having dreams about wrapping paper, and even though my son is a teen now, I still display the elves around the house. Right now, one is sitting on top of a globe and the other is hanging upside down from a lamp.
With Christmas stuff surrounding us for 2-3 months out of the year, have you ever stopped to considered how that stuff came to be? Who invented it and what is its story?
Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial Christmas trees were invented in Germany. The original versions were made of wire which was covered with feathers that were dyed green. These feather trees were eventually replaced by bristle brush trees, and then aluminum, and lastly, fire-retardant plastic.
Christmas Tree Lights
Legend tells that Martin Luther, the famed protestant reformer, was walking home one night when he looked up at the stars twinkling through the trees. To recreate this scene, he rigged a wire Christmas tree to hold lighted candles. This idea caught on and candles on Christmas trees became the norm. Strand of electric bulbs were invented by Thomas Edison, but the idea didn’t take off until 1917 when 15-year-old Albert Sadacca designed safe, brightly colored strands of lights.
Wrapping Christmas gifts become customary in the 1920s. Brothers Joyce and Rollie Hall, founders of Hallmark, were the pioneers of fancy Christmas wrapping paper. Read this fascinating story of how their idea was actually an act of desperation after they ran out of their standard tissue paper.
In an attempt to help struggling 1920’s automotive painters find a better way to paint a vehicle with two colors, Richard Drew, a young lab assistant from 3M, fiddled for two years before he successful invented what was later called Scotch tape. Read the full story here at Today I Found Out.
Tinsel was invented in Germany in the early 1610’s, however the inventor is unknown. It was originally made from real silver! Tinsel gets its name from the French word estincele, which means sparkle. Read more about the history of tinsel.
Several inventors have patented some rather handy looking snowman molds, like this one from Artega Dyer of Baltimore, which was designed in 1997.
Elf on the Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf began as a 2004 book, written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. Now the Elf is so popular, he has his own float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Read their success story here at Fortune.
Candy canes have been around for over 350 years, although the original candy canes were not cane-shaped and were not the red and white striped we know today. They were straight and entirely white. In 1670, a choirmaster in Germany bent the candy sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff and distributed them to children during church services. This practice spread throughout the world and sometime around 1900, the stripes were added. The Legend of the Candy Cane is an inspirational book that teaches kids the joy of Christ.
Bubble wrap is an integral part of Christmas shipping! We all love when gifts arrive wrapped in this pop-able stuff. It is like receiving an extra present. Bubble wrap was yet another one of those failed inventions that found its use in another way. In 1957, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes were attempting to create a three-dimensional wallpaper and ended up with a brilliant packing material instead.
The standing wooden Nutcrackers that we know today were invented in Germany, and were believed to be a symbol of good luck.
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