Baubles

The first Christmas trees were decorated with treats like nuts and apples. But, in the 1590s, a pair of enterprising glassblowers made Christmas trees a whole lot sparklier.

Hans Greiner and Christoff Mueller sold glass beads in the German town of Lauscha. These were then draped over the newly fashionable Christmas trees.

But baubles as we know them didn’t really come about until the 1800s. They became popular thanks to pictures of Queen Victoria and her family gathered around a tree laden with them.

The first glass baubles were in the shape of fruits, nuts and spheres. But these early versions came with a health notice: their shiny appearance was down to an interior coated in compounds of lead or mercury.

Nowadays, safer baubles are available in any shape imaginable. Many are made in the Chinese city of Yiwu, which reportedly produces 60% of the world’s Christmas decorations.