The History of the Christmas Train

Do You Have a Christmas Train under Your Tree?

There is something fascinating about Christmas trains. Not that many homes display Christmas trains anymore. It used to be that a prominent train was displayed underneath the Christmas tree. Nowadays, you really only see Christmas trains in homes where someone is a train collector or enthusiast.

An Elusive Past

Uncovering the history of the Christmas train was hard for me to do. Determining exactly when Christmas trains began to be displayed as part of annual Christmas decorating is difficult, but it likely occurred sometime in the 1800s.

Trains have a romantic and mysterious sort of appeal to them, and that might be part of the reason that they became one component of Christmas decorating. Trains added more mystery to the legend of Santa Claus and the charm of the holidays.

Part of the association between trains and the Christmas holiday has to do with the fact that the first regularly scheduled passenger train first ran on Christmas Day in 1830. The availability of air travel led to a decrease in the popularity of passenger trains which also might have led to a decrease in displaying miniature train replicas at Christmas time.

A Magical Ride

Consider the Christmas movies that have focused on the mysterious appeal of trains. The Polar Express is one recent example of a movie that showcases the popularity of trains. The Christmas train in this movie is given a very mystical quality, and we never really know for sure whether or not the main part of the movie was a dream. But it’s certainly a fascinating movie for kids and adults alike as we are given beautiful visual imagery of an enchanting trip to visit Santa at the North Pole.

There are still many online retailers where you can buy online trains despite the decreasing popularity of this decorating trend, but I think it is time this trend is revived.