Saturday, July 10, 2010

Christmas in July

Magnet # 289:  Hallmark Ornament Premiere, 2002

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  N/A - given to me, free

Well, we've reached one of my favorite days of the year once again - Hallmark's Ornament Premiere!  This is the day when I venture out to a local Hallmark shop so I can check out all of the new ornament offerings for the year.  And though I usually wait until the end of the year, when the prices have dropped to buy my ornaments, I will sometimes buy one or two when they first come out.  Having a Hallmark gift certificate to spend certainly makes me more likely to buy today.

While Hallmark Cards was founded back in 1910, it wouldn't be until 1973 that the company produced its first line of Keepsake Ornaments.  But Christmas tree ornaments go all the way back to 15th and 16th century Germany.  There, evergreens were placed in churches and decorated with all sorts of found items, such as apples, white candy canes, and popcorn strings. These soon found their way into homes, where pastries cut into shapes like stars, angels, and hearts were hung from the trees.  By the 1800s, German glass worker Hans Greiner had begun to produce the first glass ornaments for trees in the shapes of fruit and nuts, using mercury and lead to give the insides a silvery appearance.  It's believed here did this because he could not afford to buy natural decorations for his tree.  Greiner's creations became very popular and others began to produce them as they were imported all over Europe.  It was the Hessians, or German mercenaries, who fought in the Revolutionary War, that brought glass ornaments to the United States.  And when an illustration of Queen Victoria's own Christmas tree, featuring glass ornaments, was printed in a London newspaper, they became very popular all over England.  As time passed, ornaments became more elaborate and more expensive in some stores, while others sold them at rather inexpensive prices.  Therefore, they found their way into homes all over the world, both rich and poor.  Until 1925, Germany produced nearly all Christmas ornaments, but eventually Japanese and Czech manufacturers began giving them competition.  And by 1939, the United States was producing mass quantities of ornaments as well.  When Hallmark debuted its first ornament line, it included six glass balls and 12 yarn figures that were each dated and available only for a limited time.  And since then, their Keepsake Ornaments have become very popular, and over 3,000 have been designed over the years.  There's even a club for the more devoted collectors and when I was growing up, one of my friend's Mom was a member.  She had her ornaments displayed in little curio shelves all over the house.  I noticed them, but I really didn't start buying Christmas ornaments until I was in college.  By then, I had grown up listening to my folks talk about the ornaments they had bought and my Mom had painted when they were first married and too poor to buy nicer ones and I didn't want to have to go through that myself.  So I started getting Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments as well as other brands when they were on sale after Christmas.  Then I started getting some before Christmas.  And now, I have amassed so many that I'll never have a problem with not having enough ornaments, I simply don't have enough tree space!

Is there any better way to remind customers to stop by the Ornament Premiere than with a free magnet?  I think not.  Yep, I've held onto this one ever since I got it back in 2002 and it's gotten a little banged around, but I still like it.  It's the only time I've ever gotten a free magnet about the Ornament Premiere, but it would be great if they'd start sending these out again.  I doubt that will happen, but I can hope.  Sure, there are people who've looked at me like I'm crazy when I get all excited about this event and reminded me that Christmas is still months away.  Really, I'm fine with it being right now - heck, I wouldn't mind if it were in February.  Well, I guess I should get ready to go.  And remember - Christmas is just a mere 167 days away - you might want to stop by a local Hallmark yourself today and get a head start on your own holiday shopping!

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