Angels have started to appear as Christmas tree toppers almost as soon as people started decorating Christmas trees in the late 1800s. These angels usually symbolized the ones that appeared to Mary to deliver the message that she would be the mother of Christ and to shepherds to inform them of the birth of Jesus Christ. In some versions of the angel tree topper, several angels could be clustered near the top of the tree to represent the heavenly host that heralded Christ's birth. If you have an angel tree topper as an heirloom, you can usually date it according to its style, which usually matches the preferred art style of the time. Many early angel tree toppers had paper wings lined with cotton to represent the fact that angels are traditionally thought of as living in the heavens, surrounded by clouds. Some of the more expensive versions of this type of angel had porcelain heads.