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The History of the Christmas Tree

December 02, 2017

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Putting up a tree at Christmas time is one of the most time-honored traditions of the holiday season. Many countries around the world celebrate Christmas, and a lot of us have had the experience of choosing ornaments and carefully adorning our tree with tinsel. Where did the tradition come from, though? 

Decorating the tree is the best part! Decorating the tree is the best part!

History

  • Though the celebration of Christmas took on a religious orientation, festivities occur all around the world around this time of year. 
  • The use of evergreen trees as part of celebrations probably started thousands of years ago. During the cold winter months, evergreen trees represented the spring that was to come, and were often a part of rituals reminding people that, despite the foreboding winter, the circle of life would continue to flow. 
  • The modern Christmas tree tradition came from 16th century Germany. At this time, Germans brought evergreen trees into their homes and decorated them nuts, apples, and candles (which, with electrification, were replaced by the Christmas lights often used today). 
  • Christmas trees spread throughout Europe over the next two hundred years, and became common throughout the later half on the 19th century and into the 20th century. 

The fir tree has long been a symbol of hope during the winter months. The fir tree has long been a symbol of hope during the winter months.

The Modern Christmas Tree

  • These days, most families who celebrate Christmas put up a tree at some point between December 1st and December 24th; evergreen trees can be bought, grown, or even replaced by artificial trees. 
  • Instead of edible items, most Christmas trees are now decorated with ornaments of all shapes and sized. Some people opt to use home-made ornaments, while others may buy their decorations. Ornaments commonly depict winter scenes and classic Christmas symbols (like Santa and reindeer) and are often made of glass, wood, plastic, or metal. 
  • Some edible traditions have survived - a lot of people use candy canes and popcorn to decorate their trees! 

Try making your own Christmas ornaments!Try making your own Christmas ornaments!Courtesy of thriftystories.com

Christmas Tree Fun Facts

  • In 1998, it was estimated that Americans spent 1.5 billion dollars on Christmas trees!
  • Traditionally, Christmas trees were not put up until December 23rd or 24th and were removed on January 5th. 
  • In Russia, it is a common tradition to celebrate the New Year instead of Christmas. This was instituted after the Russian revolution, when the Christmas tree was banned for religious reasons. 
  • A German man living in Ohio in 1847 is credited with being the person to popularize the use of candy canes to decorate Christmas trees. 

The first candy canes may have been eaten as early as 1670!The first candy canes may have been eaten as early as 1670!

The Christmas tree has quite a history! Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, think about checking out the local evergreen trees next time you go for a walk. It's not hard to see why these trees have become such an important part of celebratory traditions around the world. 

Have Your Say!

Do you celebrate Christmas with a tree? Start a conversation in the comments section!