In the early years of the Soviet Union, Christmas trees were swept away as symbols of the bourgeoisie. It was only in 1935 that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was convinced to re-embrace festive greenery for the masses with a “more appropriate” political message — and so the New Year’s Tree was born. The fir tree was soon once more a public staple for the Soviet Union’s secular winter holiday.
As with all things Soviet, even the tree decorations were ideologically-driven. Starting off with ill-advised portraits of Soviet leaders and ideologues stuck to red balls, the baubles slowly became more creative and attractive with Soviet-entertainment staples like circus motifs and hockey players.
Under Khruschev, Soviet agriculture was queen, and so fruit and vegetables — including sweetcorn and cucumbers — started adorning the fir tree.
From the 1960s, the space race dominated Soviet New Year trees. At the same time, a series of 15 glass bauble girls in traditional costumes was released to celebrate the 15 Soviet sister-republics.
One of the main factories producing tree decorations in USSR was the Yolochka glass factory (or ‘Christmas tree’ in English). Located about 85 kilometres northwest of Moscow, the factory has been producing handmade glass baubles since the end of the nineteenth century — and it’s still working today.