12 innovations around Christmas - 10: Decorations

Many countries around the world celebrate Christmas. Lots share similar traditions and tastes around the Christmas period. Advances with technology and previously electricity have changed how we celebrate and decorate our homes.

Christmas lights for many are a tradition. These initially started out as candle decorations on the tree themselves. While visually appealing, the fire risks were real. Imagine a traditional tree being burnt up by your candles! Certainly not a way you would want to spend your holidays.

The advent of electricity to the masses brought Christmas lighting to the home in a safer and controlled manner. This lighting then extended for the average person to outside the home. Becoming popular in the USA in the 1960s, the tradition of lighting up your home as has extended too many countries and Australia is no exception. Many businesses and local governments get in the spirit and decorate for the public’s enjoyment.

A popular way to spend time in the lead up to Christmas is to traverse the neighbourhood to see the lighting installations. With summer falling over Christmas in Australia, the warm weather is conducive to viewing these lights and is common for many to walk roads with family to view. With advances in technology through mobile phones, local media outlets and specialised websites exist for people to submit photo and location details so they can be found and their creations shared locally and even internationally. The simplicity of this technology allows this information to proliferate quickly to larger audiences than traditional means.

The Christmas tree tradition can be traced back in various incarnations to the 16th century. Gaining popularity in nobility in the 18th century, the Christmas tree grew to the masses and has become a staple of the holiday season. As these trees were natural, a market for those in smaller homes or not wanting the mess associated with a tree emerged. Aluminium Christmas trees become popular in the USA in the late 1950s, and numerous plastic tree varieties have become commonplace for the average family. Benefits of these over the traditional tree have included the ability to pack and store for future years and ease of setting up and taking down. For many, this convenience outweighs the desires of traditional decorating.

To help decorate, using your iPad to replicate a warm fireplace on screen can help you set a mood. This is especially helpful if it’s too warm for fire, or you don’t own a fireplace! More modern takes for tree decorations overlap with pop culture, with branded decorations such as Star Wars baubles becoming desired by consumers. Where there is a lack of decorations from a particular movie or TV series, people use their own ingenuity and go DIY. Take for example this Die Hard Christmas decoration appearing recently on social media. And why shouldn’t there be Die Hard decorations for purchase? After all, it is a Christmas movie.

Technology has taken how we decorate in new decorations. Creative options and outlets seemed to be limited by one’s imagination. What other developments will we see that change how we decorate our homes?

21 December 2016