Author: Birute Dauderiene, Senior Patent Consultant and Patent Attorney at METIDA
As Christmas approaches, we all want to decorate our homes cosily. A decorated Christmas tree, paper snowflakes, ornamental candles, soft toys, Christmas lights in the window, and, of course, presents help us create a holiday mood. But did you ever stop to consider how the original Christmas decorations and artificial trees looked like? You’d think there is nothing to be very creative about, but the history of patents tells us that in this particular field, fantasy runs free.
For instance, in 1911 a US patent (US994248) was issued for an artificial tree consisting of a mount with moving spring boughs.
In 1998, the US issued a patent (US6053798) for a ‘structurally enhanced’ tree: as you pressed a button, music would play and lights would start twinkling on the tree. This looks a bit like a cheap toy made in China – lots of noise, but then you’re spared the burden of decorating.
Some Christmas trees are completely out of the ordinary. For instance, the designers of this Christmas Tree Cactus (USD477546) took an unorthodox approach to Christmas and offered a cactus as a substitute for the usual tree.
In 2008, design patent No 571251 was issued for a modified Christmas tree that can be placed against a wall – an excellent solution for where space is limited.
And this particular version of the Christmas tree (US D263938) slightly resembles a monument. After the holidays are over, this cabinet on wheels can be put to practical use, turning this ‘Christmas tree’ into an ordinary cabinet.
The Christmas stocking is yet another attribute of this holiday. As often as not, the stocking is red of colour with white piping at the top and a person’s name embroidered or written on it, yet there have been some highly unusual specimens. Take this stocking (US5523741), which was patented back in 1996. Its defining feature is that it has an externally visible light source, powered from within the device, signalling the arrival of Santa. This stocking can be mounted on one side of the chimney with a pull cord positioned across the chimney opening. As Santa makes his way through the chimney, he pulls the pull cord, triggering the coloured lights in the stocking which signal his arrival.
In 1933, when chimneys still had wide openings, one inventor thought of equipping the chimney with a level for when Santa gets attacked by a dog once downside and needs to make a quick getaway using the same route.
In spite of all the original Christmas decorations, let us remember that Christmas is more than just a shopping spree: it is also a time when we can all be together and surprise one another. If no one had believed in Christmas miracles, many of the inventions relating to this holiday would never have happened. So let us our fantasy and ideas take the shape of something that melts in your hands, smells like gingerbread, sparkles in the children’s eyes, and fills our homes with comfort and warmth.