Christmas Traditions

Christmas Tree Toppers: A Holiday History From The Top Down

What's on top of your Tree? Discover the festive history of Christmas tree toppers, from traditional stars and angels to modern floral pick arrangements.

by | December 8, 2023

Examples of a Star and Floral Pick Christmas Tree Topper

The holiday season unfolds as a magical tapestry, weaving threads of tradition and festivity into the fabric of our homes. At the heart of this enchanting spectacle stands the Christmas tree, a timeless symbol of joy and celebration. As we embark on the annual ritual of adorning these evergreen sentinels, our attention turns to a subtle yet significant element—the Christmas tree topper.

Emerging from the rich history of yuletide traditions, the tree topper has evolved from a simple candle to a crown of celestial significance. In this exploration, we embark on a journey through time, unwinding the intricate origins, symbolism, and diverse expressions of this crowning jewel of the holiday season.

From the radiant glow of stars and the ethereal beauty of angels to whimsical novelties and contemporary trends, each topper unfurls a unique story, painting a vivid picture of the universal spirit that unites us in the festive embrace of the season. All this leads to the question - what do you place on top of your Christmas Tree?

Topper Origins and Early Symbolism

The roots of the Christmas tree topper trace back to 16th-century Germany, where the practice of decorating evergreen trees with apples symbolized the Garden of Eden during Paradise plays. This early custom laid the foundation for the transformative journey of the Christmas tree from a religious symbol to a widely embraced festive tradition. The 18th century witnessed the inception of placing a single, large candle at the tree's apex, embodying the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus. This evolving symbolism marked a profound connection between the Christmas tree and the religious narrative of the Nativity.

Evolution of Tree Toppers

The 19th century witnessed a shift in topper preferences, with angels and religious figurines gaining popularity, reflecting the spiritual essence of Christmas. These intricately designed toppers often depicted angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, adding a layer of divine significance to the tree. As technology advanced, the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the advent of electric lights, giving rise to illuminated tree toppers. Stars and angels, now equipped with a celestial glow, took center stage, embracing a harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity. The diversification of materials, including glass, metal, and fabric, further enriched the array of tree topper designs, reflecting the changing tastes of the times.

Stars: Illuminating the Symbolism

Stars, gracing the summit of Christmas trees, are radiant symbols that trace their origins to the Star of Bethlehem. This timeless topper choice embodies the guiding light that led the Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus. Over the centuries, stars have evolved from simple candle-lit ornaments to intricately designed masterpieces. Crafted from various materials such as metal, delicate glass, and soft fabrics, these celestial emblems showcase the craftsmanship of diverse cultures. Stars not only symbolize the spiritual essence of Christmas but also serve as beacons of hope, casting a warm and comforting glow over the holiday festivities.

Angels: Messengers of Grace

Angels, with their ethereal beauty and celestial significance, have long been a cherished choice for Christmas tree toppers. Rooted in religious symbolism, these heavenly messengers evoke the angelic announcement of Jesus' birth to the shepherds. The evolution of angelic toppers has led to an array of depictions, capturing diverse poses and attire. From traditional angelic figures to modern interpretations, these toppers embody grace and serenity. Crafted with meticulous detail, angel toppers not only adorn the tree but also bring a sense of divine presence to the heart of holiday celebrations, fostering a connection between the sacred and the festive.

Santa Claus: A Playful Twist on Tradition

In the mid-20th century, a whimsical addition emerged in the form of Santa Claus tree toppers. These jolly figures, adorned in festive attire, inject a playful spirit into Christmas tree decorations. Santa Claus toppers resonate with the joyous and gift-giving nature of the season, reflecting a fusion of folklore with contemporary holiday celebrations. As families embrace the merriment of Christmas, the Santa Claus tree topper adds a touch of lightheartedness to the tree, embodying the spirit of generosity and festivity that defines this joyous season.

Novelty Toppers: Whimsy and Playfulness Unleashed

Novelty toppers, whimsical and playful, inject humor and personalized flair into the festive tableau. Whether inspired by the animal kingdom, pop culture icons, edible delights, tech-inspired wonders, or DIY creations, these toppers bring an element of surprise and joy to Christmas tree decorations. As families seek new ways to express their personality and create memorable holiday traditions, these whimsical toppers contribute to the ever-expanding canvas of festive expression.

Modern and Abstract Designs: A Reflection of Contemporary Aesthetics

In contemporary times, Christmas tree toppers have transcended traditional motifs, giving rise to a diverse array of modern and abstract designs. From avant-garde art pieces to minimalist structures, these toppers reflect the ever-evolving aesthetic sensibilities of holiday decor. The diversity in design mirrors the kaleidoscope of cultural influences and individual expressions. Each modern or abstract tree topper becomes a unique work of art, representing the individuality and creativity of those who adorn their trees with these cutting-edge expressions of holiday spirit.

DIY and Handcrafted Creations

The trend of do-it-yourself (DIY) and handcrafted novelty toppers has gained momentum. Families and individuals are creating their own unique toppers using a variety of materials, from recycled items to craft supplies. This personalized approach not only adds a sentimental touch to the tree but also fosters a sense of pride in the creation of a one-of-a-kind holiday decoration.

Our Top Pick? Picks!

In recent years, a distinctive trend has emerged in the realm of Christmas tree toppers, veering away from traditional choices. This contemporary wave has seen an increased inclination towards using picks as a creative alternative. These decorative sprays, crafted from an array of materials such as glittering elements, feathers, berries and other festive flair have become a unique expression of holiday style.

The trend signifies a departure from conventional tree topper designs, offering individuals the opportunity to explore innovative ways to elevate the festive atmosphere without adhering to established norms. As more people embrace this trend, the Christmas tree topper landscape evolves, showcasing a fusion of tradition with newfound creativity.

To see some examples of picks being used to perfectly top a Christmas Tree, see our line of Pre-Decorated Christmas Trees, which arrive to your home or business fully-decorated with all the lights, ornaments, picks and even the topper already securely attached.

Lighted Tree Toppers: Illuminating the Skies and Beyond

In the ever-evolving landscape of Christmas tree toppers, the advent of lighted versions has added a new dimension to festive decor. Particularly noteworthy are the towering commercial trees that grace cityscapes during the holiday season. These colossal evergreens, often adorned with oversized lighted toppers, serve as beacons of merriment, illuminating urban landscapes with a spectacular glow. The scale of these creations transforms city streets into enchanting winter wonderlands, capturing the attention and imagination of passersby.

Giant commercial trees, resplendent with lighted toppers, symbolize the communal spirit of the season and are a testament to the power of shared joy. From vibrant LED displays to intricate patterns dancing in synchronization with the melody of seasonal tunes, these towering trees bring a sense of awe and wonder to urban festivities.

Beyond the urban sprawl, the application of lighted tree toppers extends to outdoor settings. Whether adorning trees in public parks or gracing the exterior of homes, these radiant toppers contribute to the creation of magical outdoor displays. The interplay of lights against the backdrop of winter landscapes transforms ordinary trees into shimmering spectacles, infusing neighborhoods with a palpable sense of holiday cheer.

What's On Top Of Your Tree?

As we conclude this odyssey through the history and diversity of Christmas tree toppers, we find ourselves standing at the intersection of tradition and innovation. The radiant stars, graceful angels, playful novelties, and contemporary picks collectively narrate the evolving tale of festive expressions that have transcended time. In the tapestry of holiday traditions, the Christmas tree topper remains a steadfast emblem, capturing the essence of joy, hope, and the enduring spirit of Christmas.

As you embark on your own journey of decorating the festive centerpiece in your home, adorned with a unique topper that resonates with your holiday spirit, take a moment to reflect on the collective magic woven by these crowning ornaments. And so, we invite you to share—what is the cherished adornment that graces the top of your Christmas tree, adding that special touch to your holiday celebrations?

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