An Introduction to Tree Topper Types

“On one branch there hung little nets cut out of colored paper, and each net was filled with sugarplums; and among the other boughs gilded apples and walnuts were suspended, looking as though they had grown there, and little blue and white tapers were placed among the leaves. Dolls that looked for all the world like men—the Tree had never beheld such before—were seen among the foliage, and a large star of gold tinsel was fixed at the very top.”

——The Fir-Tree, Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 short story

A decorative pinnacle known as a tree-topper adorns the summit, or “apex,” of a Christmas tree, serving as a festive highlight. While tree-topper designs are incredibly varied, the most frequently seen motifs feature a star, symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, or an angel, invoking the spirit of the Christmas angel. The assortment of tree toppers extends to include designs such as a snowflake, a graceful ribbon bow, an elegant finial, the jolly figure of Father Christmas or Santa Claus, a Christian cross, an owl, a peaceful white dove, a pointed spike, or a radiant sunburst.

Let’s delve into the myriad types of tree toppers and discover which one holds the title of the most beloved.

Popular Culture

Using a tree topper is a longstanding tradition in decorating Christmas trees and has become a popular culture in many countries. 

While their origins remain a mystery, the earliest documented instance of their use traces back to 17th-century Germany, where Christmas trees were adorned with figurines of the infant Jesus and embellished with gold-coated apples and sweet treats made of gingerbread.

As the years progressed, angelic figures began to grace the apex of Christmas trees in England, gaining traction in the 1600s. During this period, Europeans also started crafting larger, more elaborate glass angels. Concurrently, star-shaped toppers rose to prominence, symbolizing the Biblical Star of Bethlehem. These stars, varying in design and size, continue to be a sought-after choice for adorning the pinnacle of Christmas trees. Centuries on, stars have become the quintessential tree topper.

Several hundred years on, the tradition of crowning the Christmas tree with a topper endures, a staple in homes that celebrate the festive season. Today, the variety of these grand ornaments extends well beyond the classic stars and angels, offering a plethora of choices to reflect a wide range of styles and preferences. 

There are depictions of tree toppers in many works of literature.

Danish Author Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 short story, “The Fir-Tree,” describes the decoration of a Danish Christmas tree, including its topper:“Dolls that looked for all the world like men—the Tree had never beheld such before—were seen among the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed.”

The use of a tree-topper is also depicted in Christmas songs, with lines such as “So hang a shining star upon the highest bough, oh” from Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Star Tree Topper

Typically, a star perched atop a Christmas tree symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem. This celestial icon, also referred to as the Christmas Star, is mentioned in the narrative of Christ’s birth found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, where “the star inspires wise men from the East” (Magi) to travel to Jerusalem. 

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’”

— Matthew 2:1–2 (King James Version)

As for what the star of Bethlehem looked like, most scientists agree it was a singular bright body of light that resided in space, anything from a star, planet, comet, asteroid, or meteor. It’s a topic of great debate and interest as the star appeared and reappeared later. Astronomers have speculated it may have been a recurring nova in recent years.

The actual appearance of the Star of Bethlehem is not described in detail in the biblical texts, so its depiction has varied over time and across different cultures.

Star Tree Toppers are the most popular Christmas tree toppers. They may vary from a simple five-point design to an elaborate Moravian-style star. You may also choose a plan with glitter, beads, or sequins if you prefer more sparkle. Or you may opt for a pre-lit star tree topper to complement the Christmas lights wrapped around your Tree.

Five-Pointed Star

This design represents a simplistic yet classic depiction of the Star of Bethlehem. The pentagram, or five-pointed star, holds significant importance across a myriad of ancient civilizations, including the Mayans in Latin America and societies in India, China, Greece, and Egypt. Its timeless style is symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem’s enduring symbol.

Moravian Star

A Moravian Star, also known as a Herrnhut Star, is a decorative item that originated in the Moravian Church community in Herrnhut, Saxony (now part of Germany), in the early 19th century. It is named after the Moravian Church, a Protestant denomination with historical ties to the region.

The traditional Moravian Star is an illuminated ornament, often with 26 points (18 square and eight triangular facets). Still, it can also be found with more points, commonly 32 and sometimes up to 100 or more. Moravian Stars are often associated with the Advent and Christmas seasons, and they are used to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. They are hung in windows or used as tree toppers in homes, churches, and other venues during the holiday season.

Angel Tree Topper

Figurine Tree Toppers is also a popular choice for traditional Christmas tree decoration. Angels are almost always associated with Christmas; some believe angels appeared high in the sky on the first Christmas. Because of this, people started putting angels high on the top of their trees to celebrate Jesus’s birth.

As an alternative, most would choose other famous holiday characters such as Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or even Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! 

It usually features an angel in a traditional white gown with wings and a halo and may be made from various materials such as porcelain, glass, or resin.

Guardian angels are believed to be spiritual beings that act as protectors and guides. For many people, decorating their home with a guardian angel tree topper expresses their faith and belief in the power of these celestial beings.

When selecting the perfect tree topper, there are countless options. However, a guardian angel tree topper is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an elegant and meaningful topper. These toppers come in various styles and designs, each with unique features. From traditional to modern, a guardian angel tree topper suits every taste. This section will explore the different types of guardian angel tree toppers available and what makes each one special.

The use of a Christmas angel as a tree-topper represents to some the angel Gabriel from the Nativity of Jesus:

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

— Luke 1:26–27 (King James Version)

During the 1870s, in conjunction with the growing power of the British Empire, the Union Jack, or Union Flag, became another popular tree-topper.

Traditional Angel Tree Topper

These toppers typically feature a classic angel design with wings and a flowing gown. They are often made from ceramic, porcelain, or resin and are painted in soft, muted colors. Some traditional angel toppers include religious symbols such as a cross or a Bible.

Modern Angel Tree Topper

For those who prefer a more contemporary look, many modern guardian angel toppers are available. These toppers feature sleek, minimalist designs with clean lines and bold colors. Some current toppers also incorporate LED lights, which add a festive touch to your Tree.

Lighted Angel Tree Topper

With bead lights or LED lights, which might softly glow within the angel’s body or around the body or specifically highlight the wings, these angel tree toppers can serve as beautifully lit decorations. Lights are woven into the design, often within the angel’s gown or halo and sometimes extending to the wings.

These lights can be clear or multi-colored and usually emit a warm, inviting glow that highlights the topper and adds to the overall ambiance of the tree lighting.

Angel Tree Topper with Moving Wings

These animated angel tree toppers are usually well designed with electrically driven wings, which make them look like real live angels who are flapping wings.

The wings are the highlight of this topper, engineered to move gently, simulating the flapping or fluttering of an angel’s wings. This animation can be subtle to create a calming effect or more pronounced for a dramatic display.

Many angel toppers with moving wings also include built-in lighting, enhancing the motion and making the angel a standout feature even in a dimly lit room.

To shop wonderful angel tree toppers with moving wings, please refer to https://angeltreetopper.com/collections/angel-tree-topper-with-moving-wings/.

Ribbon Bow

A ribbon or bow as a tree topper is a decorative element often used as an alternative to the traditional star or angel on top of a Christmas tree. This type of tree topper can add a unique touch of elegance and can be styled to fit any holiday decor theme.

Ribbons and bows come in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures, so you can easily match them to your existing holiday decor. You have the freedom to create a bow that fits the size and shape of your Tree perfectly. You can also easily add other elements to the bow to personalize it.

With proper storage, a ribbon or bow tree topper can be used for many years. Ribbons can be less expensive than other tree topper options and can be repurposed for other crafts or gift-wrapping.

Snowflake Tree Topper

A snowflake tree topper is a decorative piece that sits atop a Christmas tree, representing the unique and delicate beauty of snowflakes. This type of tree topper is a popular choice for those who prefer a winter wonderland theme or who appreciate the snowflake’s intricate design. Snowflakes, with their symmetrical geometric patterns, are a natural fit for the holiday season and have become a staple in Christmas decor.

In popular culture, snowflakes are often associated with the winter season and the festive atmosphere of Christmas. They symbolize purity, individuality, and the magic of the holiday spirit. This symbolism has been reinforced through various forms of media, including movies, music, and literature. 

Lighted Snowflake Tree Topper

These toppers come with built-in lights that can add a warm glow or a bright sparkle to the top of the Christmas tree. They are often made with clear or translucent materials that allow the light to shine through, creating a dazzling effect.

Metal Snowflake Topper

Made from metals like iron, steel, or aluminum, these tree toppers can be finished in silver, gold, or other metallic colors. They often feature intricate designs that mimic the natural structure of snowflakes.

Glass or Crystal Snowflake Topper

These elegant toppers are crafted from glass or crystal, providing a sophisticated and high-end look. They catch the light beautifully and can add a touch of luxury to your Tree.

Wooden Snowflake Topper

For a more rustic or natural aesthetic, wooden snowflake toppers are available. They are often carved or laser-cut and can be left natural, painted, or glittered.

Vintage or Antique Snowflake Topper

These toppers are sought by collectors and those who appreciate nostalgia. They can be found in antique stores or online and often have a unique charm.

Animated or Rotating Snowflake Topper

Some snowflake tree toppers come with a motorized base that allows them to rotate, adding movement and extra interest to the Christmas tree display.

Bouquet

Bouquet tree toppers are exactly what they sound like, featuring an assortment of faux flowers, leaves, and berries. Choosing to go for this type of tree topper will add a naturally charming touch to your living room Christmas display, perfect for both classic and modern aesthetics.

DIY Tree Topper

If you’re feeling crafty, you can easily create your tree topper, such as a star tree topper or a snowflake tree topper. There are many DIY tutorials available online that show you how to make a topper using materials such as paper, cardboard, wire, beads, and feathers. This is a great option for those who want a truly one-of-a-kind tree topper.

Bow ribbons are easy choices. However, the materials and craft required for an angel tree topper are more complex.

Conclusion

Though the most popular tree toppers are stars and angels, tastes differ, and the aesthetic changes every year, even for the same person.

When choosing a tree topper, consider the size and scale of your Tree, the overall theme of your decorations, and whether you want additional features like lighting.

No matter the type, a tree topper is a festive and timeless choice that can be enjoyed year after year. You can also change every year’s theme to make it creative and fresh.

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