Angels defined a significant role in the first Christmas. The archangel of revelation, Gabriel, informed the Virgin Mary that she was to be, on Earth, the mother of Jesus Christ. An angel called on Joseph in a dream to inform him that he would aid as Jesus' father on Earth, and a large number of angels appeared in the sky above Bethlehem to celebrate and announce Jesus' birth as the world's protector.
Considering the important role that angels had in the first Christmas, it's hardly a surprise that they began to take important places on Christmas trees immediately after people developed the tradition of festooning trees for Christmas.
Evergreen trees had been an emblem of life prior to the first Christmas, and people decorated their homes with evergreen branches or had been praying outside amidst evergreens during the winter months for several years to celebrate life. The holiday fell during the winter season for much of Europe, after the Roman Emperor Constantine chose December 25th as the date to laud Christmas each year starting in 336 AD and Pope Julius I made that the conclusive Christmas date many years later.
By the first century, 700s, a monk who later became a saint named Boniface, had ratified a tradition of using the triangular design of evergreen fir trees to aid in teaching people in France and Germany about the holy trinity. (Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit).
In the Middle Ages later on, people began festooning Paradise Trees that denoted the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. They dangled fruit from tree branches to showcase the world's fall that occurred when Eve and Adam wronged, and they dangled wafers made from pastry on tree forks to represent Communion, which denotes how Jesus Christ's expiatory death makes redemption possible for people of this decayed world.
In 1510 in Latvia, was the very first time recorded in history that a tree was festooned especially to celebrate the Christmas holiday, when people planted roses, (which was a sign utilized to honor the mother of Jesus, Mary) on the forks of a fir tree. The tradition quickly gained popularity after that, and people started to festoon Christmas trees in town squares, churches, and their homes with other common materials such as nuts and fruit nuts, as well as cookies dried in many different shapes, including angels.
Tree Topper Angels
People would often put angels on the very peak of their Christmas trees to denote the importance of the angels who appeared way above Bethlehem to cheerfully announce Jesus' birth on the first Christmas. If they didn't adopt an angel decoration as a tree topper, they usually placed a star, to represent the bright star that came in the sky to lead people to Jesus' birthplace.
By putting angels on the apex of their Christmas trees, some folk were also issuing a statement of faith with the intention of scaring away any bad spirits away from their houses.
Streamers and Tinsel
People would at times pretend that angels were actually festooning the trees soon after they started decorating Christmas trees, as a way of making the Christmas celebrations even more amazing for children. They wrapped streamers made of paper around Christmas trees and informed children that the streamers were like parts of angel hair that had gotten stuck to the branches when the angels leaned in too close to the trees while festooning.
Later, when people understood how to hammer out silver and subsequently aluminium, to produce a shiny kind of streamer called tinsel, they kept using it on their Christmas trees to denote angel hair. Tinsel is generally made out of a chemical called Polyvinyl Chloride nowadays, but it still dons easily over Christmas tree branches and appears similar to shiny hair.
The very first angel decorations were mostly handmade, such cookies in the shape of angels baked by hand or angel adornments fashioned out of common materials like straw. By the 19th century, or 1800s, glassblowers in Germany had created glass Christmas adornments, and glass angels started to don many Christmas trees throughout the world.
Once Industrial Revolution passed, it was possible to produce Christmas ornaments on a mass scale. People manufactured and sold many different types of angel adornments in big departmental stores, for instance, Woolworths in the United States. Popular culture many a times showed Christmas trees festooned with angels, such as in the popular Christmas cinema 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Here, the characters are singing near an adorned tree when a bell jingles to signify that a real angel in heaven has acquired its wings.
Angels prevail as important Christmas tree decorations today. High-tech angel decorations embedded with microchips are now available almost everywhere. These allow the angels to glow from within, dance, sing, and talk, play trumpets, etc. Only God knows what inventive angel Christmas tree decorations people will use in the future.