Lit up and decorated Christmas trees in big street squares, shopping malls and markets have become a common sight during the festive season. But now, with the second wave of the Corona pandemic reigning in the festivity, the Chrismas markets have been cancelled. Chetana Parameswar brings in some much-needed festive cheer, by decorating her Christmas tree at home with salt dough ornaments.
The winter solstice is important and comforting as a reminder of brighter days ahead. Long ago, as per the pagan traditions, people used the evergreen fir tree branches to decorate their homes, particularly the doors on the winter solstice. It was to celebrate the return in strength of the Sun God who had been weakened during the winter giving them hope that summer will return again.
A little history of Christmas Ornaments
The Christmas tree tradition was started in the 16th century by Germans who decorated fir trees inside their homes. If that wasn’t affordable, simple pyramid-shaped stacks of wood tied together with a rope and topped with a few branches of evergreen trees were a cheaper alternative. The tradition of adding candles to the tree branches is attributed to Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation Movement in the 1500s. Legend has it so that one night before Christmas, Martin Luther was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. They looked so mesmerising… He went home and tried to recreate that sight by lighting candles upon the tree branches, along with his children.
In Germany, the first Christmas trees were decorated with edible items, such as gingerbread, apples and nuts. With electricity coming in, lights started to appear on the trees making it possible for them to glow for days in a row. With the advent of industrialization, tinsel and glass ornaments became more economical and popular decorations to adorn the trees.
Here’s my recipe to make Christmas ornaments using salt dough.
To make your own salt dough ornaments, you’ll need only 3 ingredients:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (Weißmehl),
- 1/2 cup salt, and
- Approximately 3/4 cup of warm water
- Combine the salt and flour. Add in the water.
- Knead into a smooth dough. If it’s not coming together and there’s a lot of dry flour in the bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of water till the all the flour is moist and then knead.
- Roll out the dough to approximately 1/4 inch thickness.
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Centigrade.
- Use different cookie cutters to shape the dough into ornaments of your choice.
- Use a sushi stick or thick skewer to poke a hole to help hang the ornaments.
- Lay these out on baking trays and bake for approximately 2 hours. The ornaments should feel dry and not doughy when out of the oven.
- Once fully cooled, you can paint them in colours of your choice.
If you’d like to leave them plain, you can tie the ornaments with colourful strings and they’re ready to decorate!
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