Do you still follow these vintage Christmas traditions from the 1950s and 1960s?
Christmas traditions have changed significantly over the centuries, which isn't such a bad thing, as that means we no longer have to put a boar's head on the table and eat pies made of mutton and raisins. Even within our lifetimes, popular practices of the yuletide season have come and gone.
Decorations from our childhood may no longer be trendy, but adhering to those traditions is what connects us to our family and our past. That's part of the fun of watching Christmas episodes of classic television shows — seeing how the holiday was celebrated in the mid-century. So as the calendar page again turns to December, let's take a look at Christmas traditions that were all the rage in the youth of Boomers.
How many do you still use? Did we miss anything?
Aluminum Christmas trees
Initially sold in 1955 by the warm and cozy sounding Modern Coatings, Inc. of Chicago, these metallic faux-firs did not require strings of lights. No, who needed lights when the entire tree would shift in a kaleidoscope of color thanks to a spinning red-blue-green wheel and spotlight? Interestingly, the popularity of the real little evergreen in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, is crediting with killing off this trend.
First introduced to the U.S. market in 1946, these percolating baubles brought the look of Las Vegas neon and Wurlizer jukeboxes to the Christmas tree. The tricky part was keeping them upright, so that the magic of physics could make the delicate gizmos work.
Train sets around the tree
The sales at the Lionel Corporation peaked in 1953, which can be considered the heyday of choo-choo fever. Letting a little locomotive circle the base of the tree brought a touch of the department store window to your living room. Nothing dazzles children quite like mechanical decorations.
Flocking the tree with spray-on snow
Flocked trees were those sprayed liberally with cans of fake snow. Aerosol snow — thanks, chemistry! Patents for the spray-on snow were filed in 1953, and Christmas trees were soon covered with the stuff like people putting hairspray on beehive hairdos.
Stringing popcorn on the tree
We miss the notion of an edible Christmas tree. And what goes better with television than a handful of popcorn? Though we recommend leaving the butter off your Tannenbaum.
Matching footie pajamas
The 1950s saw the advent of the modern footie pajamas, or blanket sleeper as some call it, with the synthetic fabric, no-slip soles and zip-up front. Our parents would sew our names on the breast, though thankfully they left off the bunny ears.
Satin and styrofoam ornament balls
As you have noticed, the major post-war trend was synthetic materials. It was the age of plastic and styrofoam, and that carried over to our Christmas trees. The glass bulbs of the past were replaced by these far lighter balls coated in thin, shimmering threads. Colored spheres sufficed back then, as the variety of ornate pop culture ornaments had yet to arrive.
Actually, tinsel dates back to the '10s — the 1610s! In the olden days, however, real silver was used. During the space age, well, lead was the most popular option for giving these shiny icicles weight. That was banned in 1972, and tinsel usage began to wane.