Is Tinsel ‘ camper’ than Christmas. Is it set to return to Christmas in the next decade?
Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Nuremberg. It is a twinkly metal garland invented to reflect the flicker of candle light on Christmas trees, it is intended to mimic icicles. When the shiny strips are not tethered to a central thread it is known as lametta. Tinsel has been adopted around the world as a festival decoration. It is Tinsels role as a garment or prop in the theatre that has raised its ‘camp’ credentials and given it year round legitimacy. In particular, Drag acts and Pantomime are never knowingly underdressed. Tinsel and lametta are a staple accessory to bring a pop of sparkle to an outfit or even provide a stage name.
Tinsel was hugely popular in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I remember the skinny cheap stuff that came from Woolworths, however by the seventies trips to London exposed us, as a family, to lush, dense, luxurious garlands, from Liberty or Harrods. Tinsel in our house was used year after year , being stored between each Christmas in the loft . It developed a musty dusty smell that became a familiar fragrance of December. As tinsel fell out of favour it stayed in the loft, gathering more dust instead of draping the tree.The skinny Woolworths stuff became stiff and brittle but the luxury version , supple and glossy rested in the roof waiting for it’s retro return.
My parents died in the nineties, the dreadful job of clearing their house was an absolute nadir of life. In the context of Tinsel it was also tinsels lowest point of popularity, without a second thought it went on the discard pile.
Rumour of Tinsels resurgence started on-line in about 2010. 400 years after it was first invented. I realise some people never abandoned it. However it seems to have taken another 10 years to see Tinsel stepping back into the limelight on domestic Christmas trees rather than magazine illustrations or commercially decorated corporate trees. Shops have started offering wide selections of tinsel and I bitterly regret binning my inherited luxury swags.
Coincident with my Saturday ponderings on Tinsel a post appeared on Instagram from an Editor I used to write for. . #nakedforchristmas on Instagram shows Tinsel at its resurgent best.