A Christmas decoration is any of several types of decorations used at Christmas time. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Blue and white are often used to represent winter, or sometimes Hanukkah, which occurs around the same time. Gold and silver are also very common, as are just about any other metallic color. Typical icons of the holiday include Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, and the star of Bethlehem. Typical winter icons include snowflakes, snowmen and icicles.
In many countries there are many different types of decorations used depending on the traditions and available resources.
The Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the winter solstice, which included the use of evergreen boughs, and an adaptation of pagan tree worship. The English-language phrase "Christmas tree" is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century. From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the early reign of Queen Victoria. The influential 1840s image of the Queen's decorated evergreen was republished in the U.S, and as the first widely circulated picture of a decorated Christmas tree in America, the custom there spread. Christmas trees may be decorated with lights and ornaments.
Since the 19th century, the poinsettia, a native plant from Mexico, has been associated with Christmas. Other popular holiday plants include holly, mistletoe, ivy, red amaryllis, and Christmas cactus. Along with a Christmas tree, the interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage.
Wreaths are made from real or artificial conifer branches, or sometimes other broadleaf evergreens like magnolia (especially in the American South) or holly. Several types of evergreen or even deciduous branches may be used in the same wreath, along with pinecones and sprays of berries, and Christmas ornaments including jingle bells. A bow is usually used at the top or bottom, and an electric or unlit candle may be placed in the middle. Christmas lights are often used, and they may be hung from door or windows, and sometimes walls, lampposts, and light fixtures, or even statuary.
Outdoors In North and South America, Australia, and Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures. Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well. Christmas banners may be hung from street lights and Christmas trees placed in the town square.
In the Western world, rolls of brightly-colored paper with secular or religious Christmas/winter/Hanukkah motifs are manufactured for the purpose of giftwrapping presents. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, stockings, wreaths, and angels. Snow sheets are made specifically for simulating snow under a tree or village.
In many countries a representation of the Nativity scene is very popular, and people are encouraged to compete and create most original or realistic ones. Within some families, the pieces used to make the representation are considered a valuable family heirloom. Some churches also perform a live Nativity with volunteers and even live animals.