How Astronauts Celebrate Christmas in Space: The holiday photos are out of this world

Christmas is out of this world! Delightful photos show how astronauts celebrate the holidays with socks and trees made from leftover food containers on NASA space stations.

  • The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 marked the first time humans spent Christmas in space and they hosted a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning.
  • It wasn’t until 1973 that astronauts first celebrated Christmas on NASA’s space station, Skylab, which also saw the first Christmas tree in space.
  • The tree was made using leftover food bowls, and colorful stickers were used as decorations
  • From there, the astronauts had both artificial and real Christmas trees, hung stockings in doorways and even projected the fiery Yule log on the interior of the International Space Station.

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More than 200 miles above Earth’s surface, astronauts are enjoying an out-of-this-world Christmas celebration.

Space-traveling heroes may have spent many vacations away from friends and family, but they bring joy to their cramped quarters with Christmas trees, stockings hanging from doorways, and a Yule log displayed on the interior of the International Space Station (ISS).

The Apollo 8 mission in 1968 was the first crew to vacation in space and is celebrated by broadcasting home the first picture of Earth, along with a live broadcast on Christmas Eve morning.

Commander Frank Borman spoke during the broadcast, describing the Moon as “vast,” “lonely,” and “forbidden,” but “it makes you very aware of what you have on Earth.”

Five years later, humans celebrated their first holiday aboard a space station.

Three crew members on the 1973 Skylab 4 mission, a research platform in low Earth orbit, built a Christmas tree using leftover food containers, finished it with colorful stickers as ornaments, and topped it with cardboard cutouts in the shape of a comet.

This tradition has continued since then for decades as astronauts spend their holidays singing Christmas carols, exchanging gifts and watching holiday movies in hopes of bringing some cheer to the final frontier.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree: The branches of the makeshift tree have been attached to a pole anchored to the ground since there is no gravity inside the station.  And on top there were pieces of cardboard in the shape of a comet

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree: Temporary tree branches have been attached to a pole anchored to the ground since there is no gravity inside the station. And on top there were pieces of cardboard in the shape of a comet

DECORATE THE HALLS: Expedition 34, which occupied the International Space Station in 2012, had an actual Christmas tree for the holidays, decorated with sparkling pompoms, and stockings hung inside the entrance.  NASA's Kevin Ford brought his guitar on a space trip and played it on Christmas Day

DECORATE THE HALLS: Expedition 34, which occupied the International Space Station in 2012, had an actual Christmas tree for the holidays, decorated with sparkling pompoms, and stockings hung inside the entrance. NASA’s Kevin Ford brought his guitar on a space trip and played it on Christmas Day

Christmas time is here: Kayla Barron shows off the presents she wrapped for her six crewmates during Expedition 66 in 2021

Christmas time is here: Kayla Barron shows off the presents she wrapped for her six crewmates during Expedition 66 in 2021

Santa Claus comes to the International Space Station: Festive hats are always worn by crew members on Christmas Day, and because the station lacks gravity, the head of the hats stands upright.  Pre-holiday resupply missions brought the astronauts an artificial Christmas tree.  Pictured is the crew of Expedition 30 in 2011

Santa Claus comes to the International Space Station: Festive hats are always worn by crew members on Christmas Day, and because the station lacks gravity, the head of the hats stands upright. Pre-holiday resupply missions brought the astronauts an artificial Christmas tree. Pictured is the crew of Expedition 30 in 2011

Christmas isn't the only holiday celebrated in space: The first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission was launched aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 1993 and mission specialist Jeffrey Hoffman was the first person to celebrate Hanukkah aboard a spacecraft.  He brought with him a small Dreidel, which floated into the ship

Christmas isn’t the only holiday celebrated in space: The first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission was launched aboard the space shuttle Endeavor in 1993 and mission specialist Jeffrey Hoffman was the first person to celebrate Hanukkah aboard a spacecraft. He brought with him a small Dreidel, which floated into the ship

Flight 24 engineer and NASA astronaut David A. Wolfe took a photo with the menorah and Dreidel to celebrate Hanukkah in 1997. The crew also had a small Christmas tree and dressed up in an astronaut suit to look like Santa Claus

Flight 24 engineer and NASA astronaut David A. Wolfe took a photo with the menorah and Dreidel to celebrate Hanukkah in 1997. The crew also had a small Christmas tree and dressed up in an astronaut suit to look like Santa Claus

Say Merry Christmas: NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts share the International Space Station and spend the holidays together.  Tokarev of Roscosmos (left) and NASA astronaut William MacArthur of Expedition took a celebratory photo of them holding stockings while on the International Space Station in 2005

Say Merry Christmas: NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts share the International Space Station and spend the holidays together. Tokarev of Roscosmos (left) and NASA astronaut William MacArthur of Expedition took a celebratory photo of them holding stockings while on the International Space Station in 2005

Silent Night: A projection of the Yule record was shown on the International Space Station in 2020. The fiery images with stockings hanging above made it feel like home to astronauts who spent their vacations 250 miles above Earth

Silent Night: A projection of the Yule record was shown on the International Space Station in 2020. The fiery images with stockings hanging above made it feel like home to astronauts who spent their vacations 250 miles above Earth

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