Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Oh Christmas Tree: The Tradition Begins

It's that time of the year again. Trees, tinsel, and sparkling lights cover our homes, shops, and streets putting us into the holiday spirit. But where did it all come from? Why do we deck the halls and put up the Christmas tree?  Evergreen trees have always been a reminder of the hope of springtime. Before the advent of Christmas or Christendom, the pine tree symbolized new life.

 Germany is the accepted birthplace of the Christmas Tree. The story goes as follows:

"Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a
sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles." (The History of Christmas Trees)

Queen Victoria's Christmas Tree  
An illustration from a December 1848 
edition of the Illustrated
 London News shows Queen Victoria 
and her family surrounding a Christmas tree.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
These German settlers brought the tradition of the trees with them to the new country and in the late 1830s, the first Christmas tree display was recorded in Pennsylvania in a German settlement.  It wasn't until the etchings of Queen Victoria appeared with a Christmas tree that the tradition became popularized.

An illustration from a December 1848 edition of the Illustrated London News shows Queen Victoria and her family surrounding a Christmas tree.

"In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling. The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition." (The History of Christmas Trees)

Today the Christmas tree continues to be a symbol of the season.  The evergreen branches remind us that during the hard winter months we still have the promise of spring and the lights we place on the tree remind us of the feast of lights that the promise of the baby born in a manger.
This season remember why we celebrate and how a simple evergreen brings hope and joy to our homes each year.

Finally don't forget the ornaments which have a history all their own. In the Ornamental Match Maker Series, Christmas Ornaments take on a whole new purpose as Mrs. Clause sends out a touch of magic to bring together two lonely hearts.  These little beauties can be found on Amazon. Check them out today and see what will appear on the tree this year.

Sources: https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees


Julie Lence said...

Great blog, Danni!

Alicia Haney said...

So very interesting , Thank you for sharing this awesome blog, I enjoyed reading it. :) God Bless you.

Renaissance Women said...

Loved the post. The books also look like great reads.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season and great New Year.