Imagine this, it’s Christmas season, and you’re amazed by how beautifully your house is decorated.
The Christmas lights are changing colors, and in synchronization, the colors of red and green are all over the place! There are giant candy canes, pretzels, and even socks hanging! But what’s more enticing to you is the big and grand Christmas Tree.
Ever since you were young, have you ever wondered why Christmas Trees have been one of the most important symbols of Christmas? And why a tree?
Well, if you’re ready to get some answers for your 7-year-old self, you’ve come to the right place because, in this blog, we will discuss the brief history of the Christmas Tree. So sit back, relax, and enjoy what you’ll discover today!
Ancient Roots of Evergreen Symbolism
For many generations and across multiple religions and cultures, the evergreen fir tree has played an essential role in celebrating the winter holidays or winter solstice.
Even before your grandparents were born, evergreen had already been an extended part of winter traditions.
It goes back to ancient Egypt, where Ra, the god the ancient Egyptians revered. The god Ra had the body of a hawk and wore the bright sun as a blazing disk on his head as a crown.
At the winter solstice, when Ra started to recover from his sickness, the Egyptians adorned their dwellings with green palm rushes, representing the victory of life over death.
Evergreen trees have long been seen as symbols of renewal and immortality for Pagans.
The early Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a feast, Saturnalia, to honor Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice signaled the beginning of spring and that it would not be long until the fields and orchards were lush and full of fruit.
They adorned their dwellings and temples with boughs of evergreen trees.
Evergreen boughs served as a decoration for the Druids. These Druids lived in Northern Europe and covered their temples or holy places with evergreen boughs as a sign of perpetual life or life rebirth.
The strong Vikings who lived in Scandinavia believed that the sun god, Balder, had a unique relationship with evergreen trees and considered them his sacred plant. They also thought that the evergreen trees keep evil spirits away.
In the 16th century, Christians in Germany brought decked trees into their homes, initiating the custom of the Christmas tree as we know it today. They believe that the evergreen trees represent Christ’s victory over death.
Christians began using it as a representation of Christ’s resurrection.
Adam and Eve Day, which falls on December 24th, commemorated the biblical account of creation and was also widely observed during this period. Some people would bring evergreen trees or branches inside to decorate.
Apples were once placed on these evergreens, earning them the name “Paradise Trees,” symbolizing the Garden of Eden.
Royal Endorsement and the Spread of Christmas Trees
The modern Christmas tradition we know is widely credited to Prince Albert, who was born in Germany and married Queen Victoria. Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree in the United Kingdom in the 1840s.
He did this by bringing evergreen trees into the royal residences and decorating them with ornaments and candles.
But don’t get confused between Prince Albert and Martin Luther! Because the German preacher Martin Luther lived in the 16th century, he is thought to have been the first to bring a Christmas tree inside a home.
Aside from the royal residences, Prince Albert also provided adorned trees to schools and army barracks. The Prince inspired the British people to get into the holiday spirit of decorating trees.
An engraving released in 1848 showed the King and Queen, along with their children, decorating a Christmas tree. Soon after, Christmas Tree decoration became part of the family tradition during holidays.
By the late 1800s, Christmas trees were becoming increasingly popular across the United States, and German imports of holiday decorations were beginning to trickle in.
It was observed that whereas Europeans often utilized trees no taller than four feet, Americans preferred trees that stretched the length of a room.
Homemade ornaments became popular in the United States in the early 20th century. Christmas lights were made possible by electricity and now illuminate trees for several days. It led to the custom of putting up a Christmas tree in American homes and public areas nationwide.
To fully appreciate the brief history of the Christmas Tree, we will also look at some modern Christmas Trees people use to show their holiday spirits nowadays.
Modern Christmas Trees and Decorations
Today, people have discovered various ways to decorate their homes during Christmas. Homeowners follow several Christmas themes that suit their taste, religion, and culture.
You’ve probably already seen a white Christmas-themed house decoration. That’s one of the many modern Christmas traditions people practice today. Here’s more:
Wooden Christmas Tree
All you need is a wooden Christmas tree structure. This modern take on classic Christmas trees can be as elaborate or as simple as you like.
The wooden frame will bring a Christmas tree minus the pine needle mess. You can decorate it with different Christmas balls and other ornaments that you want.
Candy Themed Christmas Tree
Kids love a candy-covered tree hand-painted with scenes from European holiday traditions. It is simply a work of art. This adorable tree theme is whimsical, one-of-a-kind, and sure to keep you grinning throughout December.
Make a gingerbread house adorned with candy canes or a platter of chocolate fudge to match the vibe!
Potted Christmas Tree
This artificial tree in a pot will make your house look cute! It is an excellent option for plant-moms homeowners. Just add some lights, and they’re rocking!
Gold Themed Christmas Tree
Gold is a great color to represent the season’s warming feeling. Whether short or tall, a gold Christmas Tree will go perfectly in your home’s holiday decorations.
Although there are various ways cultures, religions, and countries use evergreens, one thing is for sure, Evergreens, or what we all know as Christmas Trees, will always be a big part of our holiday celebrations.
We hope that this brief history of the Christmas Tree was able to answer your childhood wonders! If you want to learn more, please do not hesitate to connect with us.
Frequently Asked Questions
In November of 1923, First Lady Grace Coolidge granted the District of Columbia Public Schools permission to set up a Christmas tree on the Ellipse, located south of the White House. The participants in the event decided to give the tree the name “National Christmas Tree.”
According to legend, Saint Boniface compared the three persons of the Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the three points on a fir tree. The newly converted people, who had previously worshiped the oak tree, switched their allegiance to the fir tree.
By the twelfth century, it had become a Christian symbol and the “Tree of Christ” in Central Europe, where it was hung upside down from ceilings at Christmastime. It is believed that the first Christmas tree decoration occurred in Riga, Latvia, in 1510.
Christmas trees are representations of different beliefs by various religions and cultures. For Christians, it is the symbol of Christ’s rebirth or birth, while for pagans, it can either symbolize a prosperous new nature cycle or ward off evil spirits from their homes or temples.
Germans were the prominent ones to decorate their Christmas trees. Fir Trees were decorated with paper roses, candles, nuts, and fruits. Germany embraced indoor tree decorating. American German immigrants adapted the practice in the 1800s.
Families used fruit (mainly apples), nuts, popcorn and cranberry strings, paper streamers, candles, and metal foil to make ornaments. The ornaments used to decorate trees before are things or food that are accessible.