Tinsel on the tree

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Below are Gram and Grandma Jennie. They are my husband’s Grandmother (Matilda Zacchia) and Great Grandmother (Concetta Gambino). They are getting ready for Christmas I would guess in the early 1950s as  Matilda would have had her 2 children by then.

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Notice the tinsel. I remember my German Grandmother, Hazel Jagdfeld, always had tinsel on her tree and this reminds me of a folk tale from that part of the world. There are many variations of it but here is one:

A widow was getting ready for Christmas and was cleaning her house including sweeping the cobwebs out. The spiders would rush to the attic to get out of the way. She and her children decorated the tree and went to bed. The spiders not be able to contain themselves, hurried down to take a look at the tree. They climbed all over the branches leaving webs all over. When Santa came to the house, he saw the webs and knew the widow would be upset to see her tree like this. So he used his magic and turned the webs into sparkly strands of silver. When the widow and children got up in the morning, they saw how beautiful the tree was and were joyful. That is the legend of why there is tinsel for the Christmas tree. Some people even tuck a little spider ornament in the tree each year.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!


10 thoughts on “Tinsel on the tree

  1. Our Christmas tree, when I was growing up, was always loaded with tinsel & we were taught to lay it on very thin, not in clumps. It did make for a lovely tree, but when I had my own tree, I looped the branches with sparkling garlands instead. (My post this Saturday shows why that doesn’t always work out well.) One year Mom tried an idea using (I think?) Ivory or Vel soap. Mixing it with a sparing amount of water, she spread the paste-like result on the branches to look like snow. It did LOOK like snow, but smelled like soap – completely overtaking the nice pine scent of the tree. So that was the last of that idea!

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  2. The hanging tinsel looks very attractive, and the children were in for a treat as soon as they came in and saw all those lovely toys beneath it – hopefully they were labelled so they knew who was getting what.

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  3. I can remember that original tinsel material and I have a vague recollection of the story too, though our family never had any folk traditions. Silver tinsel had a weight to it that was enough to bend boughs. The gold variety seemed gaudy, and I can’t remember when I’ve last seen it used. How do you suppose it relates to Hollywood’s nickname of “Tinseltown”?

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  4. We had tinsel, too — and my mother insisted that it should go onto the tree one piece at a time! It took FOREVER to get the tree “tinseled,” but it was just stunning when the lights went on!

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  5. Look at those wonderful toys! It must have been a good Christmas that year. My mom always put tinsel on our tree. She saved the old tinsel every year because it was so much better than the new version which was so full of static electricity that she could barely get it off her hand.

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  6. What a unique story? Is it from just your family? I love it! What great toys under that tree, that’s what I always look at in the old xmas pics. They were very lucky receiving these! Are you in the Genealogy Bloggers group on FB? Many Of us there have been blogging weekly on Heirlooms.

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