Christmas Tree With Silver Ornaments - 'White Wave'

A Christmas tree decorated exclusively with silver glass ornaments came into fashion under the term 'white wave' in the age of Art Nouveau. It was supposed to be a reaction to the overloaded Christmas trees of the Gründerzeit, decorated with colourful baubles.

The glassblowers in Lauscha produced and offered for the first time only mirrored, unpainted glass ornaments for this purpose. The so-called reflex baubles (Christmas tree baubles with a stamp pressed inwards on one side) became very popular. Silver baubles, shapes, figurines, blossoms, icicles, snow imitations as well as white candles and silver birds now hung on the tree. Angels were given wings made of smooth white glass silk.

An early source for this Christmas tree decoration fashion can be found in 1893 in the magazine Fürs Haus. Praktisches Wochenblatt für alle Hausfrauen. There it states:

"I saw a peculiar Christmas tree last year, all decorated with silver. Rich chains of silver paper were looped from one branch to the other. A white rose was attached to the top of each branch and many silver balls were hanging towards the trunk. There was no lack of silver tinsel either, and so the tree in its rich silver dress was a delightful sight. Of course, it was only suitable for adults. For children it is said: "The more colourful the more beautiful!"[i]

[i] Heimchen zu Hof: Silberner Christbaum, in: Fürs Haus. Praktisches Wochenblatt für alle Hausfrauen, 12. Jg. (1893/94), No. 11 (10 December 1893), p. 92.