5 popular Soviet ornaments

New Year is coming. A girl decorates a Christmas tree. 1973

New Year is coming. A girl decorates a Christmas tree. 1973

Valeriy Shustov/RIA Novosti
Between 1927 and 1935, there was a strict ban on the celebration of winter holidays in the Soviet Union. Christmas, as a religious holiday, was banned throughout the entire existence of the Soviet Union, but in 1935, the authorities allowed citizens to celebrate New Year, which became a kind of substitute for Christmas. Trees were decorated for the New Year holiday, but only with ideologically correct ornaments. RBTH presents five of the most popular Soviet tree decorations.

1. The cosmonaut

 Release date: 1960s

 Yuri Gagarin's flight into space is one of the key events in the history of the Soviet Union, so it should come as no surprise that in the 1960s, space themes dominated the country’s culture. A series of popular songs by Pakhmutova and Dobronravov were released including: "Choir leader of stellar roads," "How Yura sent us off to space" and "The Gagarin Constellation." In 1972, film director Daniil Khrabrovsky shot Taming of the Fire about the development of the Soviet space industry. The space theme also was reflected in holiday tree ornaments. After the space flight, satellite, rocket and cosmonaut ornaments were mass produced.

2. The clock from “Carnival Night”

 Release date: 1956-1960s

 The film Carnival Night (1956) had a great effect on Soviet society. The comedy by director Eldar Ryazanov  involves a New Year celebration at an economics institute. After the film's release, trees were decorated with crackers, colored pinecones, rain and bonbonnieres, just like in the film. But the film's main symbol is the clock that shows it is five minutes to midnight. It became an inseparable element of the Soviet spruce and later inspired a pop song.

3. The Soviet airship

Release date: 1950-1954

 On Oct. 4, 1937 the "USSR-V6" airship set a record for the longest duration of uninterrupted stay in the air: 130 hours and 27 minutes. Despite the difficulties related to the weather conditions, the 16-man crew heroically continued their flight and in the end beat the record held by the German Zeppelin LZ-127. Mass production of airship ornament began in the 1950s.

4. Doctor Aibolit 

Release date: 1950s

In 1949, the Soviet Union celebrated the 150th birthday of poet Alexander Pushkin. As a result, figures from his fairytales began to appear in stores including the Golden Fish and the Golden Cockerel. Later, other fairytale characters were added to this colleciton, including Doctor Aibolit, who was one of the most beloved figures from children’s stories, Little Red Riding Hood, Little Hunchbacked Horse, Baba Yaga’s hut and others.

Later, there were ornaments of popular characters from Soviet cartoons, including Crocodile Gena, Cheburashka, Parrot and Lion.

5. Star tree topper

Release date: 1930s

 The red star with the hammer and sickle was both the primary Soviet symbol and the only ornament appropriate for the top of a New Year tree.  In the manual "Holiday Tree in the Kindergarten" distributed by the Soviet Education Ministry, the instructions for decorating a school tree included: "First of all, it is necessary to decorate the central highest part of the tree with a shinny red or silver five-pointed star, corresponding to the size of the spruce. This star can be obtained in the assortment of ready-made tree decorations."

In 1937, the government released round ornaments with portraits of Lenin and Stalin, as well as a collection of smaller globes depicting all the members of the Politburo. However, these ornaments were very expensive and not produced on a mass scale.

Subscribe to get the hand picked best stories every week

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

We've got more than 1,5 million followers on Facebook. Join them!

This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more.

Accept cookies