Christmas Tree Lametta- German Tinsel for the Christmas Tree
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 tarnishes…. 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!
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).
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..
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….
The Beauty of Lametta
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.
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.
You Can find buy Tinsel from Amazon
The Metal Lametta/ Christmas Tree Tinsel is much more expensive than the plastic, but it hangs better, and is easier to reuse.
Plastic is vastly cheaper than metal, but it doesn’t hang as well.
Vintage Metal German Lametta can be Found on Etsy
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