Christmas Tree Tradition – Star Topper

Main Piece:

SE: “When I was a kid, every Christmas, we’d have the Christmas tree set out and all decorated. But instead of having a normal angel on the top, we have an angel with the head of an airedale terrier.”

Me: “A dog?”

SE: “Yeah, it was the first kind of dog we had. The star actually has a name that my sister gave it. We call it the ‘Guinness’ angel named after our first dog. And we have a rotation between us kids of who gets to put Guinness up each year.”


The informant, SE, was raised Catholic and grew up in Pasadena. He’s been celebrating Christmas his whole life, and the dog angel has always been a part of the holiday for him.


We were exchanging Christmas traditions amongst our friends and SE explained his family’s unique ornament ritual. Important to note, their dog Guinness has since passed away, but they still put up this star topper as their angel.


My family also has a tradition around who gets to put up certain ornaments on the tree, and a rotating system for how that is decided… but I’ve never heard of the dog star topper. The style of object significance is much alike how tourismus can garner a much greater value despite being of such cheap materials. Having the knowledge that Guinness is no longer alive almost makes the star have even more spiritual value, as the family’s own animal watches over their home when the holidays come around.