Christmas Tree Toppers: Tradition Explained

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A Christmas tree topper is a decorative ornament placed on the top of a Christmas tree, traditionally symbolising a crowning feature. It’s often the final item placed on the Christmas tree, highlighting its importance and adding a finishing touch. Over centuries, this tradition has become a vital part of holiday celebrations around the globe.

Historical Origins

The origin of Christmas tree toppers can be traced back to Europe in the 19th century.

The earliest known tree toppers were religious symbols, the most common being the “angel” which was meant to represent the angel Gabriel from the Nativity story.

The other popular topper was the “star,” symbolising the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men. These symbols serve as a reminder of the religious significance of Christmas.

christmas tree topper star
Photo by Marie Despeyroux on Unsplash

Evolution of Tree Toppers

Over the years, the tradition of Christmas tree toppers has evolved, integrating a wide array of designs, materials, and themes.

While the angel and star continue to be popular choices, modern designs now include bows, ribbons, snowflakes, Santa Claus figures, and more.

Some families even create their own unique toppers, making this tradition an opportunity for personal expression and creativity.

Cultural Variations of Christmas Tree Toppers

Different cultures have their unique interpretations of the Christmas tree topper.

For instance, in Britain, the fairy is often a preferred topper, a nod to the fairy tale of the Christmas tree.

In the United States, both stars and angels are popular.

In Japan, where Christmas is more of a secular event, various ornaments may be used, including original characters or popular figures from anime.

Vintage Christmas Tree Angel
Christmas Tree Angel Vintage

Choosing the Right Topper for Your Tree

The choice of a Christmas tree topper is largely dependent on personal preference and the overall theme of the tree.

It’s often chosen to complement the decorations and colours used throughout the tree.

One popular trend is to choose a topper that reflects a family tradition or personal history.

It can be an heirloom passed down through generations or a unique piece that symbolises a significant event or milestone.

The Importance of Christmas Tree Toppers Today

While it may seem like a small part of the larger holiday celebration, the Christmas tree topper holds a special place in the traditions of the season.

It not only completes the tree, but it also brings together the entire aesthetic of the Christmas decorations.

Even more, it serves as a symbol of family traditions, childhood memories, and the spirit of the holiday season.

Its placement is often a celebrated event, marking the culmination of the tree decorating process and the official start of the Christmas festivities.

Tree Toppers

The tradition of the Christmas tree topper is a cherished part of holiday celebrations worldwide.

As a blend of personal expression, cultural symbolism, and historical tradition, the humble tree topper brings a special charm to Christmas trees everywhere.

This tradition serves as a nostalgic reminder of our shared history, celebrating the spirit of the season in a delightful and visually appealing way.

Read more about Christmas Traditions and Customs