Soviet Holiday Ornaments

Not to be a Grinch, but I’ve always found the tradition of minimalist, monochromatic Christmas trees to be a little sad. Heartbreaking. Lacking any warmth or spirit. A Christmas tree should be wild and lively and textured. Its branches should sag with surprises to discover; tiny replicas of houses and animals and foods, shiny shapes reflecting bursts of light and color, metallic accents, glittering bits and bobs. The best parts of our crazy, chaotic world should be represented on its prickly branches.

Maybe my tree aesthetic comes from the Soviet tree tradition of my childhood. Back then, in a country where religious holidays varied from frowned upon to outright banned, it wasn’t a Christmas tree but a New Year’s tree, and it was topped by a big star rather than an angel. The ornaments were made of delicate glass and featured whatever was politically appropriate at the time (cosmonauts, stars, ears of corn) or else familiar cultural images like matryoshkas (nesting dolls) and pine cones. The tree looked something like this:

Check out some more nostalgic Soviet ornaments below:

See more photos and read more about Soviet ornaments: