The Christmas season is here, so it’s only fitting that I write about my tree!
In this photo you can see a Christmas tree. But the tree itself doesn’t matter as much as what is decorating it. Everything on my tree (except the ribbon) are traditional Czech ornaments from the Christmas markets in Brno, Czech Republic. Before I describe each of them, I want to give you some background on how the Christmas tree came to be:
In the 7th Century, Saint Boniface went to Germany to teach the Pagans about Christianity. The triangular shape of the fir tree was used to describe the holy trinity and Jesus’s decent to Earth as a sacrifice. It also became known as God’s tree and symbolized the tree in the garden of Eden.
In 12th Century Europe, trees started to be hung upside-down from the chandelier in a central place in the house, emphasizing God becoming man. The top two points of the triangle symbolized God and the Holy Spirit converging to the last point which was Jesus. These trees were only displayed in wealthy homes because few lower class persons had chandeliers and tall enough ceilings for a tree to be inside. Soon people began to decorate them with dried apples and pears, walnuts, and winter berries as gifts to the savior. The only problem was that these holiday sweets were not allowed to be eaten by the children until after Christmas. As you can imagine, the children were not fond of waiting and because of the perishable nature of both the sweets and the tree, they were not hung for more than a day couple days.
My ornaments from Brno are handcrafted from copper, ceramics, glass, wood, eggs, and stiffened lace. Most of the ornaments were made by talented local artists. One of the reasons each of the ornaments mean so much to me is because I got to meet the people making them, some I even got to see being made. Each person has a great skill with their medium, skills that I do not possess, but have great reverence for.
The ceramics are white porcelain with traditional blue and gold detailing in floral designs.
The wood is thin with intricate cuts of Christmas themed décor such as the nativity, Angels, and apples. Some of the wood was painted, but I chose unpainted ornaments because they felt more authentic to me.
I visited Strážnice near the Slovakian border on Sváty Mikulaš (Saint Nicholas) day. There is a Skanzen (open-air museum) of folk culture where I found a cute gift shop. There were two older ladies making ornaments by crochet and cross stitching which was then wrapped around foam balls. This red ball was made by one of those sweet ladies while I was in the shop with heart motifs.
The final piece for the tree is the angel. Mine is made from crocheted lace that has been stiffened in the form of a dress, wings, and halo. My favorite part of the angel is the red bouquet she is holding. I would like to think that they are poppies, which are my favorite flower, and they remind me of Alphons Mucha paintings.
Most gifts and goods in the Czech Republic are handmade or necessary things like clothes and underwear. Czech people are very practical and waste very little therefore, gifts always have a purpose and meaning. Czech ceramics, Kraslice, and wooden handiwork are treasured goods and exported throughout the world, which make me very proud to have them on my tree.