Decking the Halls Across Generations: The History Behind Boomer and Gen X Christmas Decorations

When it comes to holiday decorations, everyone has their own unique traditions and memories. However, for those who grew up between 1960s and 1980s, certain decorations will instantly bring back nostalgic feelings of Christmas time. These traditions not only bring a sense of nostalgia but also serve as a reminder of simpler times when family was at the heart of everything. Not surprisingly, many of these traditional items have been passed down in families, creating new memories for the next generation.

Here is a list of some of the most iconic childhood holiday decorations.

Christmas Trees

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One of the most iconic Christmas decorations is the Christmas tree. The tradition of decorating trees dates back to 16th century Germany, where people would decorate evergreen trees with candles and other ornaments. This tradition was later brought to England by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, and quickly spread throughout Europe and eventually to the United States.

 Christmas Lights

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While candles were used to decorate Christmas trees in the past, they were not always the safest option. In 1882, Edward Johnson, an associate of Thomas Edison, created the first string of electric Christmas lights. This invention quickly gained popularity and became a staple in holiday decorations.

The Advent Calendar

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The advent calendar is a popular tradition that originated in Germany in the 19th century. It was originally used as a way to count down the days until Christmas, with each day marked by a small gift or treat. This tradition was later revived in the early 20th century and has since become a beloved family tradition.

Snow Globe

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Snowglobes are a popular Christmas decoration that have been around for over 100 years. They were first created in France during the early 19th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that they became associated with the holiday season. These original snowglobes were made using blown glass and contained water, along with miniature figurines and pieces of white debris to mimic snow. They quickly gained popularity in Europe and eventually went to North America, where they were mass-produced and sold as souvenirs for travelers.

The Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker is a classic symbol of Christmas that originated from the famous Russian ballet, “The Nutcracker.” This holiday tradition began in 1892 and has since become a beloved decoration and Christmas tradition for many families.

Evergreen Wreath

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Wreaths have been used as decorations for centuries, with their circular shape symbolizing everlasting life. In ancient Rome, wreaths were hung on doors to celebrate the new year. This tradition has evolved over time, and today we see wreaths made from evergreen branches, holly, and berries adorning our doors during the holiday season.

Kissing Ball

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During the 18th century, the Christmas kissing ball gained popularity and made its way to America. It became a common decoration during the holiday season, especially loved by young women eagerly standing under the ball, hoping for a kiss from their desired partner. Made with evergreen branches symbolizing eternal life, red berries representing the blood of Christ, and mistletoe believed to possess magical powers for love and fertility, these balls were truly enchanting.

Christmas Stockings

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The tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace dates back to the legend of St. Nicholas, who was said to have dropped gold coins down a chimney for three girls who were unable to pay their dowry. Today, we continue this tradition by hanging stockings and filling them with small gifts and treats on Christmas Eve.

Nativity Scene

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The nativity scene, also known as a creche, is a depiction of the birth of Jesus Christ. This tradition originated in Italy in the 13th century and quickly spread throughout Europe. Today, nativity scenes can be found in homes and churches all around the world, serving as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.


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Poinsettias are native to Mexico and were traditionally used in religious ceremonies during the holiday season. In the 19th century, Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American diplomat, brought these beautiful plants back to the United States, where they quickly became associated with Christmas.

Gingerbread Houses

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Gingerbread houses have been a holiday tradition for centuries, with their origins dating back to medieval Europe. Today, they are a beloved decoration and activity during the holiday season, with families gathering together to create their own gingerbread masterpieces.

Santa Claus

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Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas or Kris Kringle, is a legendary figure who is said to bring gifts to children on Christmas Eve. The modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit was popularized by the Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s, but his origins can be traced back to various cultural and religious figures throughout history.

As boomers and Gen X’ers become grandparents, they pass down these cherished traditions to their children and grandchildren, keeping the spirit of Christmas alive for future generations. These traditions also serve as a way to stay connected to loved ones who may no longer be with us, but whose memory lives on through these special holiday decorations and rituals.

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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