Putting out a special Christmas snow globe is a holiday tradition that many households share. Whether that globe is a memento, part of a collection, or simply a sweet musical ornament, adding it to your home's décor is a great way to add a special touch. Snow globes usually have "snow" on the bottom that, when shaken, floats and swirls around the characters inside. Sometimes green, white, blue, red or iridescent glitter is mixed in with the snow, or glitter is used by itself.


Snow globes first appeared in the late 1800's in France and are believed to be derived from the concept of paperweights. The first water globe was a palm-sized glass globe featuring the Eiffel Tower as the center piece with a ceramic base and fake snow. It was introduced to the public in the 1889 Paris Exposition and became a great souvenir item.

Snow globes spread across Europe from France to Germany, Austria, Poland and then England. Figurines, clocks, dolls, medals and wedding flowers were made into snow domes. Religious figures and relics in snow domes became household altars.

The fad did not start in the United States until the 1920s. The early snow globes were souvenirs of local towns and were inscribed with the town's name but they were produced by German companies. A turning point in the history of snow globes was in 1927 when Joseph Garaja of Pittsburgh filed a patent for the mass production of glass waterglobes of "artistic attractiveness and novel ornamentation." The patent was granted on December 31, 1929. The concept was copied and snow globes were soon sold everywhere.

Because of the popularity of snow globes, American companies in the 1940's used them in their advertising campaigns. In Europe, religous-themed globes were popular gifts for Catholic children.

In the 1950s, plastic allowed for the growth of cheap souvenirs and globes became more known for being "tacky."

It wasn't until the 1970s that American gift companies decided to take the snow globe upscale. Designs became more intricate, music boxes and moving figures were added. Snow globes are continuing to evolve with more elaborate scenes, moving water, lights, action and motion detectors to turn them on and button-activated snow blowers, and revolving pieces or bases.