Friday, December 11, 2020

The sparkle of Tinsel


Tinsel was originally made of extruded strands of silver. As early as the seventh century, families draped trees with long thin strands of silver. Although they had a tendency to tarnish, the stands were added to enhance the glow of flickering candlelight creating a twinkly effect.

In the early 1900's German immigrants imported traditions to America. They looked for ways to decorate trees inexpensively. So manufacturers started making tinsel out of aluminum and copper. Although affordable they were highly flammable. At the beginning of WW I copper went to the war effort and tinsel disappeared from Christmas displays. 

Lead was found to be a good substitute. Unlike silver, lead did not tarnish. So along with ornaments and electric lights, tinsel once again became popular. 

By the 1970's the government started limiting how much lead could be used in consumer products. By 1972 all lead was ceased to be used in tinsel.

Modern tinsel is made from polyvinyl chloride coated with a metal finish. 

Garland is a type if tinsel. It's like tinsel on a string that you wrap around the tree.

Do you use garland or tinsel on your Christmas tree? When we had a real tree, we would use tinsel. But it's been many years since we've had a real tree. So now we use garland.

Ref: Wikipedia 



scottylover said...

I remember as a kid having to take the tinsel off the tree at the end of the season. It was a mess and so hard to get back in the package! Thanks for the memory!


QuiltShopGal said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know all the history, but looking back it makes sense. I grew up where, as the youngest child, my job was add the tinsel to the Christmas tree every year. I love how it made the tree sparkle.

Joanne in Massachusetts said...

I grew up with tinsel, which I had to carefully take off the tree before the tree was tossed out. When the non-metallic tinsel was available it wasn't saved from year to year.
The year I got my first kittens just before Christmas, I said goodbye to tinsel and switched to garlands.

Val said...

That brings back sweet memories when I was a child.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I haven't used tinsel since I was a kid (to messy). I don't use garland, either.