Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated in the United States until the 1800’s because of the Puritans’ influence. Decorated trees became popular when people saw ornaments brought to America by families emigrating from Germany and England in the 1840’s. F.W. Woolworth stocked his stores with German ornaments in 1880. By 1890 his stores were selling twenty-five million dollars worth of ornaments at nickel and dime prices.

The earliest ornaments were German hand-cast lead and hand-blown glass decorations. As time passed ornaments became more expensive and elaborate. Lauscha, Germany was the center for ornament production and they exported throughout Europe. Germany controlled the ornament making market until 1925. Then Japan began producing ornaments in large quantities for export to America. Czechoslovakia also entered the field with many fancy creations. By 1935 more than 250 million Christmas tree ornaments were being imported into the United States.

Not until 1939 and the outbreak of World War ll did an American company significantly enter the ornament business. Corning engineers produced more than two thousand ornament bulbs a minute using a machine designed to make light bulbs.

Since 1979 a Heritage Tree has been displayed in Westport’s town Hall during Christmas to honor the artists of the community. Unique hand-made ornaments have been donated by local artists. The photo shows a lovely two-sided ornament by artist Susan Winch, which highlights the joys of the season.

Margaret Mazer for The Westport Historical Society. For more information please visit: Visit the Remarkable Gift Shop for unusual gifts celebrating Westport. Mazer can be reached at 203-571-8704