History of Christmas Trees
History of Christmas trees may be traced back to the symbolic usage of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome. The German custom of lighting Christmas trees, which was carried to America in the 1800s, is still practiced today. Learn about the history of the Christmas tree, from the first winter solstice festivities through Queen Victoria’s decorating practices and the yearly lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City, in this informative presentation. Christmas documentaries may be found on the HISTORY Vault.
How Did Christmas Trees Start?
History of Christmas trees may be traced back to the symbolic usage of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome. The German custom of lighting Christmas trees, which was carried to America in the 1800s, is still observed today. Learn about the history of the Christmas tree, from the first winter solstice festivities through Queen Victoria’s decorating practices and the yearly lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City, in this informative video. Visit the HISTORY Vault to see Christmas documentaries.
Christmas Trees From Germany
Germany is credited with establishing the Christmastree custom as we know it today in the 16th century, when devout Christians adorned Christmas trees and carried them into their homes for the holidays. If wood was limited, some people constructed Christmas pyramids out of wood and ornamented them with evergreens and candles. It is usually believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer of the 16th century, was the first to decorate a Christmas tree with lighted candles. He was taken aback by the brightness of lights glittering among the evergreens as he walked toward his house one winter evening while drafting a sermon.
Who Brought Christmas Trees to America?
Christmas trees were considered an aberration by the majority of nineteenth-century Americans. The earliest documented instance of a Christmas tree being shown was in the 1830s by German settlers in Pennsylvania, although Christmas trees had been a custom in many German houses for much longer. As early as 1747, community trees were planted in the Pennsylvania German settlements. However, as late as the 1840s, Christmas trees were seen as pagan emblems and were thus rejected by the majority of Americans.
- Christmas was considered sacred by the Puritans of New England.
- “The pagan practices” of Christmas songs, decked trees, and any other happy expression that desecrated “that hallowed celebration,” according to the influentialOliver Cromwell, were denounced in a sermon.
- It was this severe seriousness that prevailed until the nineteenth century, when the flood of German and Irish immigrants undercut the Puritan tradition.
- Getty Images/Bettina Archive/Getty Images When the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the beloved royal couple, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, they depicted them standing around a Christmas tree with their children in 1846.
- The day had finally come for the Christmas tree.
- In one study, it was shown that Europeans preferred little Christmas trees that stood no more than four feet tall, whilst Americans preferred trees that reached from floor to ceiling height.
- Having been colored various colors and intertwined with berries and nuts, popcorn was invited to participate.
As a result, Christmas trees began to sprout in town squares all throughout the country, and having a Christmas tree in the home became a popular American practice as well. READ MORE:25 Christmas Traditions and the Origins of These Customs
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Center tree is located in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, west of Fifth Avenue between 47th and 51st Streets, in the heart of the financial district. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been there since the Great Depression. The tallest tree on exhibit at Rockefeller Center, which was planted in 1948, is the world’s tallest living thing. It was a 100-foot-tall Norway Spruce from Killingworth, Connecticut, and it was the largest tree on the property. The original tree at Rockefeller Center, planted in 1931, was the first of its kind in the world.
Two years later, another tree was planted in the same location, this one illuminated with lights.
Christmas Trees Around the World
Christmas trees are available in Canada. German settlers came to Canada from the United States in the 1700s. They settled in the province of Ontario. They brought with them many of the traditions connected with Christmas that we still enjoy today, such as Advent calendars, gingerbread homes, cookies, and Christmas trees, among other things. When Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, set up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1848, the practice spread throughout England, the United States, and Canada, and the Christmas tree has become a national symbol.
Most Mexican houses are decorated for the holidays with el Nacimiento, which means “Christmas Tree” (Nativity scene).
Because the purchase of a natural pine is considered a luxury item by most Mexican families, the typical arbolito (little tree) is often an artificial one, consisting of a bare branch cut from a copal tree (Bursera microphylla) or some type of shrub collected from the countryside, rather than a natural pine.
- Predating the last Ice Age, the Norway spruce was a natural species in the British Isles, and it was reintroduced into this country before the 1500s.
- Christmas trees must be imported since there are no trees that grow this far north.
- Guatemalans decorate their Christmas trees.
- When the youngsters wake up on Christmas morning, they find gifts under the tree.
- Brazil’s Christmas trees are decorated with lights.
- Christmas Trees in the Republic of Ireland Christmas trees can be purchased at any point throughout the month of December and adorned with colorful lights, tinsel, and ornaments.
- The mansion is festooned with garlands, candles, holly, and ivy, among other things.
Sweden’s Christmas trees are a sight to behold.
Straw ornaments such as stars, sunbursts, and snowflakes are hung from evergreen trees to create a festive atmosphere.
Norway has a lot of Christmas trees.
After being imported into Norway from Germany in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Christmas tree was not spread into the country regions until much later.
Following that, a Norwegian tradition known as “circling the Christmas tree” is performed, in which everyone joins hands to create a ring around the tree and then walks around it singing songs.
Ukrainian Christmas trees are available for purchase.
When it comes to the Christmas season, which includes New Year’s Day, people like to decorate fir trees and throw celebrations.
A tree trunk is laden with gifts, and the youngsters hit the trunk in an attempt to knock out the hazelnuts, almonds, toffee, and other goods that have been hidden inside.
Guests bow their heads in front of it, and musicians perform before it.
The triangle form is frequently used to arrange the elements in the picture.
This is a wooden framework that has been constructed to form a pyramid that is many feet high.
Decorated with colored paper, gilded pine cones, and little colored pennants, it is completely covered with color.
A star or a miniature doll is placed at the apex of the triangle sides to serve as a focal point.
The ceppo is a part of the ancient Tree of Light tradition, which evolved into the Christmas tree in other parts of the world.
Germany’s Christmas trees are a sight to see.
It has long been speculated that Martin Luther was the one who started the ritual of bringing a fir tree into the home every year.
He wanted to show his wife the beauty of the forest, so he chopped down a fir tree and brought it home with him.
The advent of the Christmas tree was heralded.
It was the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden that was represented by the Paradise tree (a fir tree with apples on its branches).
It was a symbol of Christ’s birth as the Light of the World, and it is still used today.
Modern Tannenbaums (Christmas trees) are usually decorated in secret by parents with lights, tinsel, and decorations, and then lighted and exposed on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts, and gifts tucked beneath the branches of the tree.
In South Africa, Christmas is celebrated as a summer holiday.
Saudi Arabians decorate their homes with Christmas trees.
Christmas lights are typically considered offensive.
Philippines Christmas Trees & Decorations Since freshly harvested pine trees are prohibitively expensive for many Filipinos, handcrafted trees in a variety of hues and sizes are frequently utilized instead.
Bamboo sticks are used to construct them, which are then wrapped in vividly colored rice paper or cellophane and embellished with tassels at each point.
China’s Christmas trees are a tradition.
“Trees of light” are the name given to Christmas trees.
A variety of miniature toys and dolls are used to decorate Christmas trees.
In addition, little candles are placed amid the tree’s branches.
The origami swan is one of the most popular Christmas ornaments. Thousands of folded paper “birds of peace” have been exchanged between Japanese youngsters and young people all around the world as a vow that war will never be allowed to happen again.
Christmas Tree Trivia and Facts
Since around 1850, Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States of America. Except for the top ornament, the National Christmas Tree did not have any lights on it in 1979. This was done in memory of the American hostages who are currently held in Iran. Between 1887 and 1933, a fishing schooner known as the Christmas Ship would dock at the Clark Street bridge and sell spruce trees to Chicagoans who had traveled from Michigan. The Douglas fir in the hamlet of Woodinville, Washington, is thought to be the world’s largest live Christmas tree, standing at 122 feet and 91 years old.
- With the arrival of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, the Christmas tree tradition entered the White House.
- Because to the National Christmas Tree Association, the President and first family have received a Christmas tree every year since 1966.
- The first communal Christmas tree in the United States was built in New York City in 1912, marking the beginning of a tradition that continues today.
- Every state, with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska, cultivates Christmas trees.
- It is estimated that more than 1,000,000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees in the United States.
- It is never a good idea to burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace.
- In the past, other sorts of trees, such as cherry and hawthorn trees, were used to decorate Christmas trees.
- Because of a nationwide 30-day period of mourning following the killing of President John F.
- Teddy Roosevelt banned the use of Christmas trees at the White House due to concerns about the environment.
- The use of tinsel was originally prohibited by the government.
- It is now composed entirely of plastic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the modern Christmas tree originate?
Some of the most common inquiries
The origin and history of the Christmas tree: from paganism to modern ubiquity
A new manner of celebrating Christmas became popular throughout the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The two kings are seen in this etching from 1840, surrounded by children and gifts surrounding a Christmas tree in the background. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Many people believe that it is impossible to celebrate Christmas without a beautiful evergreen tree in the living room, adorned with dazzling ornaments and presents wrapped in tissue paper. The origins of the Christmas tree, like the origins of other Christmas customs, including the celebration of Christmas itself, may be traced back to ancient Pagan practices.
Here’s a quick summary of the Christmas tree’s fascinating historical background.
Pagan origins of the Christmas tree
During the Winter Solstice, the ancient Egyptians used to adorn the temples devoted to Ra, the god of the sun, with green palms to symbolize the return of the sun. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. People in the Northern Hemisphere have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for thousands of years, even before Christianity was introduced. They have decorated their homes, particularly their doorways, with evergreen plants to commemorate the occasion. On the 21st or 22nd of December, the day is the shortest and the night is the longest of the year.
- The Egyptians commemorated the solstice by decorating their dwellings with green palm rushes in honor of the deity Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a halo around his shoulders.
- In the far north, the Vikings believed that evergreens were the vegetation of Balder, the god of light and calm, and hence worshipped them.
- As a side note, it’s worth emphasizing that Saturnalia was the most significant festival in Roman culture.
- However, while many individuals took advantage of the anarchy to let off anger, Saturnalia may also be a time for generosity.
- Does this sound familiar?
- Several historians believe it was a smart political move that converted Saturnalia from a frat party marathon into a solemn commemoration of the birth of Christ throughout time.
- In some Christian cults, Adam and Eve were revered as saints, and their feast day was observed on Christmas Eve.
The Garden of Eden was represented with a “paradise tree,” which was laden with fruit, as part of the performance’s theme.
As a result, several people secretly picked evergreen branches or trees and transported them to their homes.
Some families would tie and burn candles on top of these pyramids, one for each member of their family.
Martin Luther, according to legend, was the first person to burn a candle atop a Christmas tree.
Martin Luther chopped down a fir tree and brought it back to his home so that he could share his experience with his family.
In fact, by 1605, historical records reveal that the people of Strasburg “put up fir trees in the parlors.
Lutheran preacher Johann von Dannhauer, for example, expressed concern that the emblem deflected people’s attention away from the genuine evergreen tree, which he identified as Jesus Christ.
During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, a powerful leader in the United Kingdom, preached against “the pagan practices” of Christmas carols, adorned trees, and any other happy expression that desecrated “that hallowed day.”
The modern Christmas Tree
It was customary in ancient Egypt to drape green palm leaves around the temples devoted to Ra, the sun-god, during the Winter Solstice celebration. Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia. People in the Northern Hemisphere have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for thousands of years, even before Christianity was introduced. They have decorated their homes, particularly their doorways, with evergreen plants to commemorate the event. The day is the shortest and the night is the longest on December 21 or December 22.
- The Egyptians commemorated the solstice by decorating their dwellings with green palm rushes in honor of the deity Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a halo around his waist.
- Those living farther north considered evergreens to be the plants of Balder, the deity of light and peace, who they believed to be the source of all good.
- The fact that Saturnalia was the most important festival in Roman culture should be mentioned at this point.
- However, despite the fact that many individuals took advantage of the anarchy, Saturnalia could also be a time of goodwill.
- Becomes a little too familiar, right?
- Saturnalia was turned over time from a frat party marathon to a solemn commemoration of the birth of Christ, according to some, thanks to a smart political manoeuvre.
- Adam and Eve were considered saints in various Christian cults, and their feast day was observed on Christmas Eve.
The Garden of Eden was represented with a “paradise tree,” which was laden with fruit, as part of the performance’s overall theme.
As a result, several people went out and picked evergreen branches or trees, which they then secretly transported to their homes.
Some families would place candles on top of these pyramids, one for each member of the family, and bind them together.
Martin Luther is credited with being the first person to burn a candle atop a Christmas tree.
Martin Luther chopped down a fir tree and brought it back to his home so that he could tell his family about his experience.
What is known is that by 1605, Christmas trees were a reality, as historical documents reveal that the residents of Strasburg’set up fir trees in the parlors.
According to Lutheran clergyman Johann von Dannhauer, the emblem diverted people’s attention away from the genuine evergreen tree, which is Jesus Christ.
Cry out against “the pagan practices” of Christmas carols, decked trees, and any other happy expression that desecrated “that hallowed festival,” as preached by Oliver Cromwell, a powerful politician in the seventeenth century.
Why do we have Christmas trees? The surprising history behind this holiday tradition.
When you stop to think about it, Christmas trees are a bizarre tradition: Throughout the world, every December, people gather in their local forests to cut down a tree, haul it into their houses, decorate it with lights, ornaments, and tinsel, and then unceremoniously drag it to the curb in January. Evergreen boughs, on the other hand, have been a staple of seasonal décor since the dawn of time, when they were used in pagan winter solstice rituals. As Carole Cusack, professor of religious studies at the University of Sydney, explains in an email, “Evergreens at midwinter festivities have been a tradition since the ancient world, symbolizing a victory of life and light over death and darkness.” Trying to determine exactly when and where these old practices evolved into the tradition we know today is challenging.
In spite of the fact that Christmas trees can be found all over the world, their roots may be traced back to areas with extensive evergreen woods, particularly those in northern Europe.
Competing claims in Northern Europe
Neither Latvia nor Estonia deny that they were the originators of the Christmas tree. Latvian Christmas tree customs date back to 1510, when a merchant guild known as the House of the Black Heads dragged a tree around the city, decorated it, and then burnt it down to commemorate the occasion. Meanwhile, Estonia has refuted such allegations, claiming that it has proof of a comparable celebration conducted by the very same guild in the country’s capital city of Tallinn in 1441, which was subsequently destroyed.
According to Gustavs Strenga of the National Library of Latvia in Rigat, who spoke to the New York Times in 2016, the guild’s activities were most likely unrelated to the holiday season.
Christmas tree origins in Germany
Cusack, on the other hand, believes that the Christmas tree as we know it now originated in the Alsace area of France around the sixteenth century. (At the time, the region was considered German territory; it is now a part of France.) Historical documents show that the first Christmas tree was planted in the Strasbourg Cathedral in 1539, and that the custom spread throughout the region to the point that the city of Freiburg outlawed the felling of trees for Christmas in 1554, according to historical archives.
The symbolism of the tree has been explained in a variety of ways by folklore over the centuries.
Christmas pyramids are wooden constructions that are decked with evergreen boughs and religious figurines, according to certain theories about the origin of the Christmas tree.
Nonetheless, the practice spread among German families and gradually changed through time to become what we know today as the Christmas tree.
German emigrants brought these customs with them when they relocated to different nations throughout the world. Cusack claims that Christmas trees had spread throughout Europe by the 18th century.
Trees become trendy in the United Kingdom
A Christmas tree is believed to have been introduced to the royal household by Queen Charlotte, a princess of a German duchy who married King George III in the mid-18th century and was the princess of a German duchy. However, it was another British queen who was responsible for turning Christmas trees into the seasonal symbol that they are today. When theIllustrated London Newspublished a drawing of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert (another German transplant), it captivated the attention of royal watchers throughout the world.
Due to the fact that Queen Victoria was a trendsetter of her day, the custom spread throughout the world.
This particular tree has a long and illustrious worldwide history of its own: Norway began the annual custom of gifting a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom in 1947 as a gesture of appreciation for the country’s allyship during World War II, when the Norwegian government sought safety in the United Kingdom following the Nazi invasion.
Tree lighting ceremonies in the United States
Germany’s Christmas tree traditions most likely made their way to the United States in the late 18th century, when Hessian troops fought alongside the British during the Revolutionary War in the United States. In the years that followed, German immigrants also introduced the custom to the United States, where they “became a source of interest for other Americans,” according to historian Penne Restad. (Related: Rockefeller, the viral stowaway Christmas tree owl, flies free in a new video.] The Christmas tree became more popular among American households around 1850, when the Philadelphia-based magazineGodey’s Lady’s Book reproduced an illustration of the royal family’s Christmas scene from theIllustrated London News.
- The lighting of two treasured Christmas trees in the United States has become a part of the country’s tradition of ushering in the holiday season.
- Every year since then, with the exception of a few years in the 1940s when they were left in the dark owing to blackout restrictions imposed during World War II, both trees have been lighted.
- The Christmas Market at Liseberg Amusement Park (which is the largest in Scandinavia) is illuminated by five million lights that twinkle on the buildings and 700 Christmas trees.
- Gothenburg is a city in Sweden.
- The Christmas Market at Liseberg Amusement Park (which is the largest in Scandinavia) is illuminated by five million lights that twinkle on the buildings and 700 Christmas trees.
Beginning in December, choirs will sing and sweethearts will kiss along a two-mile Lane of Light that will lead down to the waterfront. Photograph by Roberto Rinaldi for the SIME Foundation.
New Year’s trees in Russia
Christmas trees have been a tradition in Russia for a long time. Although the lavishly adorned trees that illuminate the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square every December these days are not for Christmas, they do serve a festive purpose. These are oryolka, or New Year’s trees, which are a custom that arose as a result of a ban on Christmas trees imposed during the Russian Revolution. In the 1920s, the newly formed Soviet government launched a campaign against religion, beginning with what it regarded to be “bourgeois” rituals such as Christmas.
The secular dictatorship began to urge residents to celebrate New Year’s instead of Christmas after prohibiting the use of Christmas trees and other practices.
Senior Soviet official Pavel Postyshev issued a newspaper article proposing that families celebrate New Year’s Day by decorating “fir trees shimmering with multi-colored lights,” according to the article.
Antarctica’s scrap-metal Christmas tree
The continent of Antarctica has its own set of Christmas tree customs, despite the fact that there are no trees to be found at the South Pole. Christmas at sea was celebrated in 1946 by the crew of a United States Navy mission to Antarctica, who decorated their ship with a spruce tree brought from Canada. More than half a century later, researchers operating at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in the United States constructed a Christmas tree out of scrap metal, replete with bespoke decorations and lights.
Christmas boats of Greece
In honor of St. Nicholas, the country’s patron saint and protector of sailors, people in Greece used to decorate Christmas boats rather than Christmas trees in the past. Not only did families install tiny wooden boats inside their houses to indicate a welcome homecoming from a life at sea, but illuminated wooden boats were also displayed in public squares in towns such as Thessaloniki to symbolize a welcome return from a life at sea. The Christmas boat, on the other hand, has been supplanted by the Christmas tree in recent times.
Tree plundering in Scandinavia
Since the 17th century, Scandinavian households have set aside a day to raid their Christmas trees in search of sweets before disposing of the trees. Saint Knut’s Day, which is celebrated on January 13, is named after King Canute of Denmark, who reigned during the 11th century. The festival is mostly observed in Sweden, where it is regarded the 20th and last day of the Christmas season, as opposed to other nations where the holiday season lasts for 12 days. Families decorate their Christmas trees with cookies and other delicacies to commemorate St.
When a family has completed stripping the tree of its ornaments, they sing as they ceremoniously chuck the tree out the front door of their home.
Knut’s Day customs have vanished. However, Swedish folklorist Bengt af Klintberg told the TT news agency in 2015 that the practice will live on through the country’s traditional poetry and rhymes.
Pooping logs of Catalonia
Catalonia’s Tió de Nadal, a hollow log with a painted face that families carry into their homes in the weeks leading up to Christmas, is one ritual that is closely associated with trees. Children are supposed to care for the Tió de Nadal by covering it in a blanket and placing food and drink out for it during the day and at night, respectively. In the evenings leading up to Christmas, they beat the log with sticks, causing it to defecate gifts and sweets from a hole in its rear end. (See also: Is there another Catalan tradition?) Building death-defying human towers is a popular pastime.
But why is it necessary for the log to spew out its treasures?
However, the exact roots of this Catalan tradition remain buried in mystery—and, like other Christmas tree traditions, it is possible that they will be lost to the passage of time.
A Brief History Of The Christmas Ornament
A simple symbol of festive happiness, the Christmas bauble has an intriguing backstory that deserves to be explored more. The original ornaments, which are said to have originated in Germany in the 16th century, were nothing like the ornaments we know today. Although we refer to them as “Christmas” trees, the beautiful evergreen has been around for far longer than the holiday season. There is evidence that the habit of decorating the home with evergreen boughs for the winter solstice dates back to the ancient Egyptians, according to some historians.
- This calming presence was also used in several pagan winter solstice rites, including those of the Druids, the Romans, and the Vikings.
- The’modern’Christmas treetradition is said to have started in this period.
- The custom, which eventually evolved into a Christian rite, began to spread throughout Europe.
- During the 18th and 19th centuries, German immigrants took this practice to the United States, where it was immediately condemned by Puritanical religious organizations because of its historically pagan implications.
- At left: An illustration of the Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle from the 1848 edition of The Illustrated London News, courtesy of WikiCommons.
courtesy of Robert Laessig/Wikimedia Commons After a published portrayal of the English Queen Victoria spending Christmas with her German-born husband, Prince Albert, and their family around a decorated evergreen tree became popular in the late 1840s, rich Americans flocked to the habit, which became common in the early 1900s.
Within a decade, Woolworth’s Department Store in the United States sold $25 million worth of German-imported decorations made of lead and hand-blown glass, according to historical records.
Germany, formerly the world’s leading maker of handcrafted ornaments, found itself unexpectedly competing with Japanese and Eastern European mass-production as the Christmas bauble evolved into a commercial enterprise with a worldwide reach.
In 1973, Hallmark created its “Keepsake” ornaments, which gave these ornaments a collector value due to their unique design.
The Christmas tree has lost most of its religious meaning in modern times. Families of all faiths throughout the world look forward to the time of year when they may dust off their holiday decorations once again, as it has evolved into a fully integrated cross-cultural winter custom.
The History of the Christmas Tree Goes Back Farther Than You Might Realize
Long before Christmas trees were thought of as holiday decorations, they were just modest, fragrant evergreens that were a source of delight throughout the long, dark winter days. But what exactly does the Christmas tree represent? What led to it being one of the most recognizable symbols of the season and how did it get there? Here, we’ll walk you through the most useful—and interesting—epilogues in the history of the Christmas tree. To learn even more Christmas trivia and amusing facts, check out these articles on the origin of the phrase “merry Christmas” and why we use it, as well as the actual tale behind the iconic Christmas carol “White Christmas.”
What does the Christmas tree symbolize?
Winter solstice was celebrated in ancient societies as the beginning of longer, brighter days to come and as a sign that the Sun God was recovering his power after a long period of rest. Given that evergreen trees keep their color throughout all four seasons, they were displayed and hugged in conjunction with the solstice to serve as a reminder of the warmer months to follow. This material has been imported from another source. Visiting their website may allow you to access the same stuff in a different format, or it may provide you with even more information than you could get elsewhere.
Traditionally, the Sun God, Ra, got more weakened as the weather turned colder and darker.
Similarly, in ancient Rome, a feast known as Saturnalia was held on the solstice, which encouraged people to decorate their homes with evergreen decorations in anticipation of the coming spring (and plentiful crop).
When did Christmas trees originate?
It was in 16th-century Germany that the actual Christmas tree custom arose, when Christians began to adorn trees (or, if times were tough, basic pyramid-shaped piles of wood) within their houses. Practice has it that Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation movement in the 1500s, is responsible for the tradition of placing candles on Christmas tree branches. ‘(According to legend, he was inspired by the night sky and wanted to recreate the view in his own house by utilizing candles.) At this 19th-century lithograph from Leipzig, Germany, Martin Luther and his family are seen on the eve of Christmas in their home.
Photographs courtesy of Getty Images A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions claims that the first Christmas tree was planted in London, near what is now Leadenhall Market.
In what country did the Christmas tree originate? And are Christmas trees religious?
Despite the fact that the Christmas tree has its origins in Christianity, most Americans were first reluctant to embrace the practice because they considered it was associated with pagan beliefs. Until the late 1700s and early 1800s, the custom was mostly confined to German-speaking countries. The Puritans of New England had retained very rigid views of Christmas in America up until that point, and individuals were severely punished if they celebrated or decorated in any way throughout the season.
In spite of the Puritans’ rule, this solemn American celebration of Christmas continued until Irish and German immigrants began to settle in America and establish their own traditions in opposition to them.
The Hulton Archive is a collection of historical documents.
However, the majority of the country remained suspicious. Only when a photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (who was of German descent) was published by an English daily newspaper in 1848, did the ritual begin to gain widespread popularity.
Where did the custom of decorating Christmas trees originate?
Aside from the candle aesthetic that had already been established in Europe, decorations such as ornaments (often imported from Germany) became increasingly popular in the late 1800s, and homemadedecorations such as cookies and garlands (made from popcorn, berries, nuts, and other seasonal ingredients) became decorating staples. An old-fashioned Christmas tree with popcorn garlands and candles is adorned for the occasion. ClassicStock Photographs courtesy of Getty Images Throughout the twentieth century, as scientific and industrial advancements developed, more homegrown decorations were replaced with flashy electric lights and synthetic materials like as tinsel.
Amy Mitchell is a woman who lives in the United States.
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20 Surprising Stories Behind Popular Christmas Decorations
1 / 22 1 / 22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 1 /22 Every year, between the end of November and the beginning of December, holiday-crazy decorators bring their Christmas decorations out of storage and put them up around their homes. But have you ever stopped to consider why you decorate your Christmas tree or buy so many Christmas crackers each year? Continue reading to discover the interesting origins—as well as the long-standing legends—behind traditional Christmas decorations.
A medieval play inspired the characteristic colors of Christmas.
22nd day of the month What is it about the colors green and red that makes us want to decorate everything from ribbons to wrapping paper during Christmastime? Colours derived from the Paradise tree, a fir tree with apples that was used as a prop in “The Paradise Performance,” an eleventh-century play depicting the Christian concept of creation, are said to have been the inspiration. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, the tree’s red apples were a sign of the knowledge that led to their expulsion, while the green fir represented everlasting life.
Because of the play’s religious undertones, it has been connected with the holiday season.
Egyptians were early adopters of Christmas trees.
3 / 22 / German Christians are credited with establishing the practice of exhibiting Christmas trees inside their houses in the 16th century, when they brought decorated trees into their homes for the first time. But did you know that the Egyptians adopted evergreens thousands of years before the Romans?
On the winter solstice, ancient Egyptians decorated their dwellings with green palm rushes to commemorate the sun god Ra’s recovery from the afflictions of winter, which they felt signified life triumphing over death and life overcoming death. istockphoto.com
Luther lit them up.
22nd of April If it weren’t for the work of a certain Protestant reformer, your Christmas tree would be considerably less luminous. According to legend, one winter’s night in the 16th century, while walking home from the woods, Martin Luther was so moved by the sight of the stars shining above the evergreens that he recreated the shimmering spectacle at his home by attaching small lit candles to the branches of a fir tree that he had personally cut down and shaped. As a result, the tradition of decorating Christmas trees with lighted candles began.
Tinsel was a status symbol.
5 / 22 / Nuremberg’s Germans decorated their Christmas trees with strands of silver, which became known as “tinsel,” during a time when silver was considered to be an extremely valuable commodity. It was not only used to flaunt their wealth, but it also used to reflect the light of candles that were set on the trees during the festivities. When silver became scarce during World War I, cheaper materials such as copper and tin were substituted for it, resulting in the use of aluminum (which was later discovered to be a fire hazard) and lead as a result of the war’s effects on the economy (which turned out to be poisonous).
This article is related to:These 10 Towns Celebrate Christmas All Year-Roundistockphoto.com
Ornaments of old were edible.
22nd of June Tradition has it that the practice of decorating trees began in Germany in the 1600s, when fruits and nuts were strategically placed on evergreens. When an illustration of Queen Victoria and the German Prince Albert’s Christmas tree, which was adorned with baubles, was published in “The Illustrated London News” in 1848, manufactured decorations quickly became popular among the public. Affluent shoppers in the United States followed suit, and Woolworths was selling $25 million worth of German-made ornaments to customers anxious to deck their Christmas trees in royal splendor by the turn of the twentieth century.
Edison and Johnson took tree lights electric.
7th of July, 22nd of August Electric lights, the long-awaited replacement to candles, didn’t come until 1880, when Thomas Edison produced the world’s first strand of lights and wrapped them around his Menlo Park, California, laboratory. In 1882, however, it was Edison’s business partner Edward H. Johnson who put together the world’s first string of electric Christmas tree lights and placed them around his own tree. Despite the fact that the string was hard-wired with 80 red, white, and blue bulbs, it was dwarfed by the 3,000 electric lights that were used to illuminate the National Christmas Tree on the White House grounds during the Christmas season of 1923.
Wreaths were an afterthought of the tree cutting process.
22nd of August Wreaths, which are prominently displayed on our front doors and around our houses during the holidays, were really developed by chance. Christmas tree cuttings from freshly cut and manicured trees were repurposed into wreaths by savvy revelers in the 16th century, who didn’t want to throw away the surplus branches.
These wreaths were initially placed on the tree itself as an ornament, signifying eternity, as a hint to their resemblance to an infinite loop. They were originally hung on doorways, but they were later moved to the tree itself as an ornament symbolizing eternity. istockphoto.com
The Christmas Star most likely wasn’t a star.
22nd of September Christmas tree topper history records that the first ever was none other than the infant Jesus, a figure that was eventually replaced by other biblical symbols, such as angels and stars. However, despite the fact that the latter is supposed to have been inspired by the Star of Bethlehem, commonly known as the Christmas Star, science has never been able to verify the existence of a star like this. According to Phys.org, the phenomenon was most likely not a comet or a supernova, because such events would have been well documented; instead, it was more likely a “planetary conjunction,” in which two planets appeared close together in the sky for a period of time long enough to be observed in a telescope.
St. Nick’s charity keeps your stockings full.
22nd of October An equally humble guy of equally humble roots is claimed to have been the inspiration for the simple ritual of hanging a stocking from the mantel. According to legend, St. Nicholas came down the man’s chimney and slipped gold coins into the stockings of his three daughters, which happened to be hanging near the fire. When the villagers learned that the widower could not raise a dowry for his daughters’ wedding and was unwilling to accept money from others, the story goes that St.
As a result of their discovery of the gold the next day, their difficulties were resolved, and a new Christmas tradition was established.
Mistletoe cured more than lovesickness.
22nd of November Even while merrymakers may hang branches of mistletoe around the house during the holidays and pucker up when they come under it, the herb’s first use was far less romantic. For centuries, the Greeks believed it was a cure for a variety of maladies, from cramps to spleen difficulties, while the Romans considered it a salve for ulcers and poisons. However, it was not until the first century AD that it began to acquire secondary meanings. In part because the plant had the ability to thrive even in the depths of winter, the Celtic Druids regarded it as a sign of fertility and life.
Candy canes didn’t always have stripes.
22nd of December To believe it or not, the distinctive hook-shaped confections that ornament Christmas trees throughout the month of December weren’t originally red and green! Candy canes first appeared on American Christmas trees in 1847, when a man named August Imgard decked out his blue spruce tree with the sweets, which were all white at the time of the holiday’s inception. It wasn’t until the start of the twentieth century that the distinctive red stripes and peppermint flavor began to appear on the candy.
The symbolism of the candy has been the subject of several stories over the years. These have ranged from the candy’s form being a tribute to Jesus Christ’s first initial to the color being a representation of his blood—none of which have been substantiated. istockphoto.com
Gingerbread houses have a Grimm foundation.
3/22 (13 / 22) As much a festive adornment as it is a treat, “lebkuchenhaeusle” (or edible homes) initially appeared in Germany in the 16th century as beautiful edible houses decked out in gold leaf and silver foil. However, it is thought that the publishing of the children’s fable “Hansel and Gretel” in 1812 was the catalyst for the widespread adoption of the Christmas practice of decorating gingerbread homes. The cautionary tale of a courageous brother and sister who are enticed by a witch’s handcrafted confections has inspired innumerable real-life gingerbread houses that are not quite as terrifying, but are just as tasty as their fictional counterparts.
Poinsett popularized Poinsettias.
14 / 22 (14 / 22) Known now as popular holiday table centerpieces and entrance decorations, the poinsettia originally grabbed the attention of Joel R. Poinsett, the United States minister to Mexico at a time when Christmas celebrations in the United States were just getting started. Poinsett brought the red and green flowers known as “flor de nochebuena,” or the “Christmas Eve flower,” back to the United States after seeing them in Mexico. The blooms are now considered a symbol of the holiday season.
Snow globes started with a kitchen staple.
15 / 22 / Whether you manufacture or purchase a snow globe, it serves as interactive holiday décor that ensures you will have a White Christmas no matter where you reside in the world. However, it may come as a surprise that these pocket-sized wonderlands were the outcome of a bizarre scientific experiment. The snow globe was invented in 1900 by surgical instrument mechanic Erwin Perzy, who was working on improving the brightness of electric light bulbs at the time. Perzy poured semolina into a glass globe filled with water, creating an artificial snowfall that was the inspiration for the invention of the snow globe.
Bells were sounded for devotional purposes.
16 out of 22 Handheld bells were used by St. Patrick himself to summon his parishioners to prayer long before they were adorning doorways, Christmas trees, and wreaths for the holidays. The portable chimes continued to be heard on religious holidays such as Easter, acquiring them a biblical meaning in the process. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the Victorian era, when carolers rung bells during the Advent season while singing, that the ding of a bell became the unofficial sound of the holiday season.
Holly was fit for the gods.
17 out of 22 It didn’t stop the Romans from decorating their homes with holly berries to celebrate Saturnalia, a winter festival honoring the god of agriculture and heralding the beginning of spring. Although holly berries are poisonous to humans and pets, this didn’t stop the Romans from decorating their homes with the winter-hardy plant to celebrate Saturnalia, a winter festival honoring the god of agriculture, Saturn, and heralding the beginning of spring.
Tradition has it that the ancient people fashioned branches of the vivid plant into garlands and even fastened them onto gifts to brighten up the holiday season. istockphoto.com
The first nativity scene got a thumbs up from the Pope.
/ 18 / 22 St. Francis of Assisi is to be credited with the creation of these heavenly dioramas, which may be displayed on your mantel or in your front yard. Assisi is credited with creating the world’s first real-life nativity scene in 1223—but only after receiving consent from Pope Honorious III. Assisi’s living nativity scene, staged in a cave in the Italian village of Grecio, had a manger, as well as an ox and a donkey, and it grabbed the attention of neighboring townspeople as the saint conveyed a biblical message to them.
Christmas crackers didn’t start out cracking.
19 / 22 % When broken apart by two individuals, a Christmas cracker reveals a joke or a present within, making it both a festive table topper and a party favor all in one package. Since the 1850s, when confectioner Tom Smith began including a little saying inside the twisted wrappers in which he sold his almond bon-bons, merrymakers have been breaking them open on Christmas Day to spread holiday cheer. Although the renowned crack that is heard as the tubes open is caused by the friction of chemical-laden paper within them rubbing together, it was only later added after Smith was inspired by the crackling of a fireplace that the sound was introduced.
Yule logs were originally Yule trunks.
20 / 22 % Yule logs, called after “jol” (Yule), a traditional Scandinavian winter solstice festival, are often lighted on Christmas Eve to create a festive mood and to provide warmth for the family. In order to urge the sun to rise from the south and usher in the regeneration of the land, it is stated that the Yule log was ignited. The Yule logs of old, in contrast to the manageable chunks of wood that are burnt in fireplaces nowadays during the holidays, were full-blown tree trunks, rather than little logs.
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Pomanders were thought to ward off the Plague.
twenty-second/twenty-second Place a few pomanders on the table before your guests arrive to make an eye-catching DIY table centerpiece and to fill the air with a fresh, fruity aroma during the holidays. Small sachets or boxes packed with aromatic herbs were first employed to cleanse the air in Europe during the Black Plague in the 14th century, albeit they were ultimately ineffectual. Citrus fruits studded with whole cloves and infused with spices such as crushed cinnamon and nutmeg have replaced pomanders, which were originally derived from “pomme d’ambre,” the French equivalent of “apple of amber.” You may also make a fragrant tree ornament by looping a wire through the pomander and attaching it to a ribbon at the end.
The More You Know
With this newfound knowledge, you can appreciate and comprehend these festive customs to a larger extent. bobvila.com
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