Christmas toys since the USSR: the types and characteristics

The older we get, the more often there is a desire to return to a carefree and happy childhood, and this feeling is especially strong on the New Year. Nowadays, it is increasingly possible to meet a Christmas tree decorated in European style, and this only makes you want to dress up your forest beauty in the best Soviet traditions, be sure to put cotton on it that will imitate snow, and put a cotton Santa Claus with your granddaughter Snow Maiden.

History of

In Soviet times, the toy survived a lot, but we will begin with the pre-revolutionary times, when the tradition of decorating the New Year tree first appeared.

In Russia for the first time to celebrate the New Year and to dress up conifers began under Peter the Great It was during one of his travels in Europe, he saw a beautiful conifer tree, decorated with apples, candies and tangerines. The spectacle was very much enjoyed by the future emperor, and therefore, as soon as he came to power, a decree was immediately issued, according to which all residents of Russia were obliged to put a juniper or a pine tree in their house before the New Year and decorate it with various fruits and sweets.

However, when Peter I died, the tradition of celebration gradually faded away and gained new strength only under Nicholas II.

In those years, Christmas tree decoration was intended to emphasize the abundance, luxury and high social status. Most of the toys were brought from Germany, although in the middle of the XIX century artels were created, which produced sparkling tinsel, sequins and iridescent metal threads.

At the very beginning of the First World War, German prisoners taught our masters to make glasswareHowever, the revolution that followed soon changed the fate of the winter holiday in the state.

In the late 20s, the celebration of the New Year turned out to be strictly prohibited as a manifestation of bourgeois life.They wrote about the tree as a “priest’s relic,” and even the artists tirelessly scoffed at their caricatures over the decorated pine.

However, in 1935, the party’s policies changed. It was at that time that prominent public figures of that period made a statement about the return of the New Year celebration. This was due to the fact that in tsarist Russia, wealthy and wealthy officials arranged luxurious New Year holidays for their children, and the children of workers and peasants were only forced to spy on them through the windows and envy the celebrating rich. So it was decided to return the holiday to the common people and to please the children of the working population of the Soviet Union.

However, before the manufacturers of Christmas decorations in that period it became quite a difficult task - to transform the Christmas pine into a communist pine.

And the solution was found - manufacturers have mastered the production of thematic products. For example, angels with wings transformed into pioneers, and a Christian Bethlehem star turned red.

A special manual was published, in accordance with which the New Year tree was dressed up.On the top there must have been attached a scarlet five-pointed star, it was necessary to hang locomotives, airplanes, armored cars and other symbols of the Soviet man at the edges of the branches. However, in the center, closer to the trunk, small bonbonnieres, checkers and pyramids were allowed.

The times changed, the style of the board changed, and gradually the toys with the symbols of the workers and peasants were ousted, animals, and later they were replaced by the familiar to us balls, white snowflakes and other bright, beautiful and, most importantly, very kind toys.


Even during the Second World War, people tried to decorate the New Year tree in houses as a reminder of a peaceful existence and a symbol of victory over the enemy. However, the industry in those years was spending all its power on the needs of the front, so the New Year decorations were made from military waste. Thus, toy tanks and guns were made of tin, and metal chips were used to make five-pointed stars and snowflakes.

In those years, home-made toys were widely used, which were made from what came to hand. The raw material used was cardboard, strips of cloth, and even eggshell,and at the front, the soldiers made their mood with garlands of figurines made from cotton wool, bandages, rags and even epaulettes.

The most typical toy of the time - the usual blown bulb Ilyich. She was painted, attached a string and hung on the Christmas tree.

After the war, people more than ever needed a holiday, so since 1946 the production of Christmas-tree decorations was fully resumed, and a few years later the design of toys became much more peaceful, kind and magical. In 1949, decors depicting the heroes of his most famous fairy tales were issued in honor of the anniversary of the birth of A.S. Pushkin, decorations appeared later based on the works “Chipollino”, “Doctor Aibolit”, “Frog traveler”, “Little Red Riding Hood” others.

At the very beginning of the 50s, glass bead necklaces were widely well as a wide variety of birds, animals, musicians and circus performers. In addition, houses and snowflakes were in great demand, especially as if “powdered with snow”.

In the era of stagnation in the USSR, many papier-mâché toys were made. The country did not experience a shortage of paper, so domestic technologists liked the technique.

The range for the most part were images of animals and human figures. From above, they were covered with a layer of bertolet salt, due to which they became smoother and slightly shining.

By the way, nowadays such items are highly valued among collectors.


The design of Soviet toys can fully tell how the policies of the party and government have changed.

The very first toys were designed to carry the ideas of communism to the masses, so they included the symbolism of the Soviet state. (sickle, hammer, five-pointed star), and also demonstrated the strength and power of the country (tanks, airplanes, cannons, airplanes and figures of soldiers with dogs).

At the end of the 1930s, the Arctic Circle was actively developed in the USSR, which was also reflected in the style of jewelry. Toys that symbolize polar bears, penguins, hockey players and polar explorers are widely used. At the same time, the first serious steps began to conquer the sky, which was immediately reflected in the Christmas tree decorations - small airships and parachutists took the turn.

After the overwhelming success of the film Circus, the demand for toys depicting clowns,trained dogs, elephants and bears, and negritas occupied a special place (they say that their release was arranged on the orders of Stalin himself, who liked this film very much).

At the time of Khrushchev, when the main emphasis in the Soviet Union was placed on the development of agriculture, toys with pictures of vegetables rapidly became fashionable. On the Christmas trees of the Soviet people, almost everything grew on clothespins: grapes, apples, pears, lemons, cucumbers and even tomatoes. But corn occupied a special place. Probably, it was difficult to find a house in which there would not be this yellow queen of the fields.

It should be noted that it was she — Khrushchev’s corn — that became the one and only ornament that has been produced continuously since then throughout the entire period of the USSR’s existence.

A little later, we started the release of "babes." They were tiny copies of large Christmas tree decorations: balls, figurines, and animals. The idea came to everyone's taste, so these toys were decorated with coniferous branches or small table Christmas trees in almost every home.

The first flight of Gagarin into space was a landmark event in the life of citizens, and, of course, this was immediately reflected in the design of Christmas tree decorations., giving a start to a truly "space age" in the production of New Year's decor. Enormous cosmonauts, miniature rockets and satellites appeared in large numbers.

In the mid-60s, experiments with form began. It was then that they mastered the production of toys, which already resemble modern ones: balls and icicles with small dredging and hoarfrost. And some toys even covered with fluorescent paint.

In the years 1965-1969 came the era of standardization, so the release of New Year's decorations became serial. This led to a significant reduction in the range of models produced. And by the beginning of the 80s only the New Year and fairy tale themes remained.

In the same period, it became popular to hang metal metal foil on a tree. Sometimes it was hung on the tree so tightly that it was difficult to see not only the decorations, but also the fluffy branches of the green beauty. This led to the fact that thematic decorations became much smaller, and they themselves became geometric and abstract.

In the 1990s, absolute leadership was given to balls, bells and houses. An abundance of glitter has become a characteristic feature of the jewelry design of that time.

At that time, Western trends began to influence fashion, so by the mid-nineties at the peak of popularity was decorating the Christmas tree in one color. This tendency of that period has got accustomed to our compatriots, so even now in many houses you can find Christmas trees in which both balls and garlands are selected in one shade.

The balls in those years were very beautiful, their characteristic feature was a small round cavity. When the light hit it, an extraordinary effect appeared, as if fabulous illumination was flashing. As the New Year comes at midnight, toys with a picture of a clock were in great demand. Often they were given the most central place on the tree. And, of course, a star adorned the crown.

And under the New Year tree, the figures depicting the main wizard Santa Claus and Snow Maiden were certainly placed. Most often they were made of pressed cotton, papier-mâché or plastic.

How to do it yourself?

It’s not so easy to make toys with your own hands that would be similar to Soviet ones, but it's worth trying to recreate the atmosphere of that era.

The papier-mâché decorations are very cozy and kind.

To make a unique handmade decoration, you need to soak cardboard or any other unwanted paper in the water. When the mass is sodden, squeeze it and grind well. If the house has a blender - it will be very useful. The paper mass is mixed with a mixture of PVA, starch and water, taken in equal quantities, and then molded figure, carefully grinding all the irregularities and not leaving voids. When the blank is ready, it is left to dry, and then painted.

To make it more radiant and even, some sprinkle the surface with ordinary table salt or sugar - they betray a mysterious shimmer and hide defects.

There is another version of the manufacture of such toys. A figurine of a future toy is molded of plasticine and evenly pasted over with small pieces of thin torn paper, for example, newspapers or pages of old notebooks. Pasting should be uniform and dense. You will need at least 6-7 layers. As the glue is better to use PVA.

After work, the toy is left to dry. Then the figure is carefully cut in half, the clay is removed, the halves of the toy are folded and glued together again with pieces of paper: for startersseams are glued in several layers, and then the rest of the surface to avoid unevenness. At the end of the work, the product is painted and hung on the Christmas tree.

Very vintage are toys made from salt dough, as well as cardboard. Their production will bring pleasure to any child, and the appearance will delight both babies and their parents.

Very original toys are made from textiles. They are called "garret". The technology is very simple: a figure of the desired design is sewed from a white canvas, stuffed with padding polyester and painted. But it is precisely in the coloring that the main highlight lies: in order to give the product the effect of antiquity, it is covered not with simple paint, but with white gouache, in which coffee is added and a little glue to fix the coating (PVA is optimal for this). Some also complement the composition with a pinch of vanilla and cinnamon. In this case, the toy turns out to be not just “old-fashioned”, but also fragrant, and the smell sometimes lasts a year or even more.

And, of course, a large space for the fantasy of creating retro toys is given by decoupage technique. You can buy the most simple Christmas balls, cover them with white paint and glue (in the ratio of 1 to 1), and then use themed napkins to make the desired decor in the proposed technique.

Beautiful examples

The most rare are the decorations of the times of the USSR with communist symbols.

But for the majority of our compatriots, the Soviet Christmas tree toy is associated with the heroes of good fairy tales and magical animals.

At that time, not only forces, but also soul were invested in the manufacture of balls. That is why it is simply impossible to find anything like this on the shelves today.

How to make a vintage snowman, see the next video.

Information provided for reference purposes. For construction issues, always consult a specialist.

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