Sunday, December 20, 2009

Traditional Bridal Ornaments

I've read that, according to an old German tradition, the tree of a newlywed couple should include the following twelve ornaments, symbols to insure blessing and happiness for their life together. Usually, the list is part of a pitch to sell a very pretty glass set of ornaments. But since I'm of German descent, I thought maybe my tree should have those ornaments - and besides, a household can always use more blessings and happiness. However, my tastes are much more eclectic. I figured over time I could make or find my own versions.

Angel - God's guidance in the home
Rose - affection
Rabbit - hope
Teapot - hospitality
Pine Cone - fruitfulness
Santa - goodwill
House - protection
Fruit Basket - generosity
Bird - joy
Flower Basket - good wishes
Heart - true love
Fish - Christ's blessing

I'm certainly not a newlywed any more, but I do have all twelve now. My teapot is a survivor from my old childhood doll dishes. I glued the top down, and wrapped an ornament hanger around the handle. A couple of inches in diameter, it's quite heavy, being china, so it needs to be hung a bit to the inside of my tree, closer to the trunk.

For the rabbit, I had a little pottery figurine from my first trip to Mexico (back when all you needed to cross the border was a photo ID and a copy of your voter's registration. A girlfriend and I had lots of time, but little money, so traveled via buses and trains over to, and then down, the Pacific Coast as far as San Blas - quite an adventure). By knotting a bit of gold cord around its neck, it's now an ornament (shown hanging next to some Guatemalan worry dolls glued to a hair barrette - too fragile to wear, I turned that into an ornament too).

I think the strangest one, and one of the last ones I found, is my fruit basket. I found this in a little curio shop in Willamstad, capital of the Caribbean island of CuraƧao in the Netherlands Antilles. It was so bizarrely strange, I knew it would be perfect. A little more than an inch across, I especially love that the strawberry, bananas, and slice of watermelon are all the same size. I'm not sure if those are grapes, or maybe breadfruit. There's also a slice of papaya and something that looks like a Delicata squash on the other side - a wonderful little piece of folk art.


Nancy M. said...

How neat! I have never heard of that before!

Annodear said...

I hadn't heard that either. Good job on getting all 12, tho :-)

GooseBreeder said...

That's delightful!! Big strawberry!
Nice they all have memories attached,isn't that part of what Christmas is about? Getting out our memories and dusting them off.

Polly said...

Beautiful! Creative way to get the symbols onto your tree.

Anonymous said...

Love the ornaments - a great gift idea for my sister. Hmmms. . .

Katidids said...

Love this tradition! I generaly give ornaments in place of bows or ribbon on packages for a young couple or those with newly established homes....this is even better! Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tradition!

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Den said...

Hi Sadge. Just found you via the Simple Green Frugal Co-op & found this lovely post... I love the idea of creating 'symbols' to hang on the tree. I'm thinking about taking the principle & tweaking it slightly to come up with symbols that are more relevant to me personally... Look forward to reading your posts in 2010 and hope this year is a happy & successful one for you...