Christmas trees were originally decorated with apples and candies, but ornaments were the invention of Hans Greiner, a 16th century German artist who made strings of glass beads and tin figurines.
Greiner’s hometown of Lauscha was known for glassblowing, and other artists picked up on his idea. While these ornaments were incredibly popular in Lauscha, the rest of the world didn’t discover them until the 1880s, when Frank Winfield Woolworth found them during a trip to Germany.
He began importing them to sell in his Woolworth’s stores in Pennsylvania. When Woolworth’s went national with 596 stores in 1911, their Christmas ornaments went on trees across the country and eventually the world.