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Christmas Tree Lametta- German Tinsel for the Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Lametta- German Tinsel for the Christmas Tree

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We always had Lametta, or Tinsel for the Christmas Tree, a German Tradition. (Even for their first Christmas in America, my parents had it!) Long strands of silver that hang from the tree looking like shiny icicles. Mom insisted on it. I loved it, even though none of my American friends had a Christmas tree that looked anything like ours. (And we never had strings of popcorn or garland like they did… ) (Even the type of tree we had was different, but that’s another story.)

Lametta made our Christmas tree SHINE!

 

History of the Christmas Tinsel

Tinsel or Lametta was first used in the 1600′s, and was made from real silver that was pounded flat and cut into thin strips. Since silver tarnishe

The Beauty of Lametta

German Christmas Eve Traditions
Christmas 1970

The beauty of Lametta… of Tinsel… is most evident on Christmas Eve. My parents would be sure that all the lights in the house are turned off, and candles are lit around the room. Once upon a time the tree would have had real candles on it too, but here in California we had electric lights as a fire precaution.

We kids would be brought into the living room to see the tree. And what an amazing sight it was. Candlelight and the tree lights would flicker against the silver tinsel. The Christmas tree looked MAGICAL!

Then we sang German Christmas songs… ending of course with Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night) while gazing at the the tree, and the mysterious packages underneath it.

Lights would be turned back on, and the spell would be broken. But, the magic of the beautiful Tree stays with me.s…. tinsel was later made of tin. Today, Lametta is made of plastic. And it loses something…. but is still quite pretty. I can’t imagine hanging real silver from the tree… I bet everyone made sure that EVERY last strand was collected after Christmas!

Luckily, it is possible still to find the vintage Lametta online!

german tinsel

 



The Spider Christmas Tree Legend

 

The Origins of Christmas Tree Lametta

There is a sweet story about the origins of Christmas Tree Lametta. (It’s a little unclear if this is a German story or Ukrainian story, but when you consider that up until the 1840s,  the reach of the German border extended to modern day Ukraine, it’s possible that they share stories).

Christmas Tinsel SpiderChristmas Tinsel SpiderChristmas Tinsel Spider

 

Once upon a time a poor woman did her best to clean the house and decorate the Christmas tree for her children. In her flurry of cleaning, she banished the spiders to the attic. But, since spiders are notoriously nosy, they crept downstairs after she went to bed. They crawled all over the tree admiring her work. Unfortunately, they left a lot of cobwebs on the tree. When the Christkind came, he saw what had happened… and transformed the spider webs into silver strands that shimmered in candlelight.

And that is why we have Tinsel or Lametta on the Christmas Tree….

Read more here..

The Christmas CobwebsThe Christmas CobwebsCobweb Christmas: The Tradition of TinselCobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel

How to Hang Tinsel on a Christmas Tree

There is an art to hanging Tinsel on the tree…. use a light hand… only a few strands on each branch end…make sure it hangs down. (And if my mom is supervising… it better be done right! Or you will be doing it over and over again.)

And warning… as you walk by the tree (if your tree is placed on carpet) you will attract it with your clothing . And for weeks after the tree is cleared away… the lametta will still turn up around the house. Like a Christmas memory for your vacuum cleaner!

Now… when the Epiphany rolls around, and it’s time to clear away the Christmas Tree… We do not LEAVE THE CHRISTMAS TREE LAMETTA ON THE TREE! Each strand is to be carefully collected and saved. Line them up straight on a piece of cardboard, and fold it safely away for next year….

Warning!

I recently learned that you should never put the metal lametta on an artificial Christmas Tree! I really don’t know why…(probably because the metal might touch the metal of the Christmas Tree frame and cause a spark?) but I thought it best to pass the warning along.

Vintage Metal German Lametta

If you want the look you remember from years ago… you have to go with the vintage metal German Lametta

Vintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Heavy Blei Metal Tinsel~Das echte Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Heavy Blei Metal Tinsel~Das echte Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Heavy Blei Metal Tinsel~Das echte Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage 1940s German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Orion Eis-Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage 1940s German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Orion Eis-Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage 1940s German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Orion Eis-Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage Tinsel Icicles Boxes for Christmas Tree Ornaments, Set of 3 'Lametta Eiszapfen' Boxes - Made in Germany in the 1930'sVintage Tinsel Icicles Boxes for Christmas Tree Ornaments, Set of 3 ‘Lametta Eiszapfen’ Boxes – Made in Germany in the 1930’sVintage Tinsel Icicles Boxes for Christmas Tree Ornaments, Set of 3 'Lametta Eiszapfen' Boxes - Made in Germany in the 1930'sVintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASE**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**Vintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASE**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**Vintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASE**Buy 2 get 1 Free Deal**Vintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Stanniol Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Stanniol Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASEVintage German Tinsel in Original Package~Metal Tinsel~Stanniol Gold Lametta Tinsel~GOLD~1 PACKAGE per PURCHASELametta Silver or Gold Foil TinselLametta Silver or Gold Foil TinselLametta Silver or Gold Foil Tinsel

Metal Lametta

The Metal Lametta/ Christmas Tree Tinsel is much more expensive than the plastic, but it hangs better, and is easier to reuse.

Christopher Radko Magical Tinsel Shimmering Silver Tone 18 inch Metal Holiday Hanging GarlandChristopher Radko Magical Tinsel Shimmering Silver Tone 18 inch Metal Holiday Hanging GarlandChristopher Radko Magical Tinsel Shimmering Silver Tone 18 inch Metal Holiday Hanging GarlandChristmas Lametta Heavy Metal Tinsel Icicles - GoldChristmas Lametta Heavy Metal Tinsel Icicles – GoldChristmas Lametta Heavy Metal Tinsel Icicles - Gold

Plastic Lametta

Plastic is vastly cheaper than metal, but it doesn’t hang as well.

Northlight 1000ct Silver Tinsel Icicle Strands Christmas Decorations 18Northlight 1000ct Silver Tinsel Icicle Strands Christmas Decorations 18Northlight 1000ct Silver Tinsel Icicle Strands Christmas Decorations 18BRITE STAR Silver 18-Inch Icicle Tinsel - 2000 StrandsBRITE STAR Silver 18-Inch Icicle Tinsel – 2000 StrandsBRITE STAR Silver 18-Inch Icicle Tinsel - 2000 Strands2000 Strands Icicles Tinsel Tree Christmas Decorations, Gold2000 Strands Icicles Tinsel Tree Christmas Decorations, Gold2000 Strands Icicles Tinsel Tree Christmas Decorations, GoldSILVER TREE TINSEL Icicles 6000 Strands 3 BOXES NEWSILVER TREE TINSEL Icicles 6000 Strands 3 BOXES NEWSILVER TREE TINSEL Icicles 6000 Strands 3 BOXES NEW

 

 

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Lametta or Tinsel for the Christmas Tree



Comment(9)

  1. I like the tin/metallic version better and have been trying to save it each year (found some ancient packages in my mother’s in laws belongings after she passed away)….but always end up loosing some. Will eventually be forced to go to plastic I guess.

  2. Growing up, we always called tinsel “rain.” That’s not such a stretch when you consider that rain eventually freezes into icicles. Many members of the family still live in central eastern Pennsylvania, where our ancestors settled prior to the Revolutionary War. I’m hoping to use a live tree this year and break out some of that old rain I’ve been saving.

  3. When I couldn’t find the REAL tinsel anymore I just went to different decorations. Taste changes over the decades: minimal lametta hung each piece separately like real Icycles would form and white candles in silver holders, nothing else. Then in the seventies red candles in gold holders, straw stars and gold painted little pine cones. Then the opulent eighties, Victorian theme , pink candles in gold holders, little straw heads with veils and babies breath and some gold and clear glass balls. Now in the last 30 years I mostly do the same: white candles in gold holders and some tiny white electric lights, silver, gold and clear glass balls and I cut a beaded chain in approximately 8” pieces and hang them all over. BUT ONE THING STAYS THE SAME , ALWAYS, ALWAYS REAL CANDLES ! Always looking for a “Charlie Brown” tree and bargain with the seller down to the minimum. Sometime I have to cut out branches to allow for the candles to have nothing above them!

  4. Tinsel was never banned in America. The powerful plastics lobby paid off a lot of the politicians who made noises about lead tinsel to give plastic (Mylar) tinsel a boost.
    The makers of the better quality, real lead tinsel bowed to the inevitable when faced with beaurocracy and folded. Lead tinsel was / is coated with tin which is inert and harmless and gives it the shiny look. You can handle old “lead” tinsel safely because of the shiny tin coating. You can also buy antique / vintage REAL LEAD tinsel (American or German) on ebay or Etsy. DO NOT BE FOOLED INTO BUYING “VINTAGE TINSEL” which usually just means older packs of sleazy Mylar / plastic tinsel. Words like “Plastic”, “Plasticised” and “lightweight” are tip offs that the contents of the pack are plastic. You want “metal foil” or “real foil” or for German lead tinsel, “Stanniol lametta.” Beautiful REAL LEAD (tin coated) vintage tinsel is readily available. I sell it on Etsy, Ebay and Facebook marketplace. Real lead tinsel is not to be eaten, but then Mylar isn’t healthy to eat either.

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