As tradition has it, year after year, we get into Christmas mode (especially if we have children) by decorating THE tree, the house, singing carols and exchanging gifts—these are some of the things that make Christmas the most anticipated holiday of the year. Although I have to admit each year gets more and more challenging, so many more things to do, so much more to buy – do we inflict this upon ourselves? Yes – well even if we do, I still get a great thrill out of it!
Each year, when the weather gets colder and December approaches, that feeling of excitement to decorate the Christmas tree doesn’t diminish with age. But why in the world do we decorate these (often artificial) fir trees in the first place? And where did the tradition of the Christmas tree come from? It turns out, the meaning behind Christmas trees as holiday décor, goes back further than we thought.
Did you know…
It all started with the ancient Egyptians…
Both the ancient Egyptians and Romans saw the bright hue of evergreen plants as a way to give warmth and hope to people during the winter according to History.com.
Ancient people would mark the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year, which typically falls on December 21 or December 22) by using evergreen boughs. These plants served as a sunny reminder that other greens would grow again once spring and summer returned.
People in some countries believed evergreens stood for everlasting life and even had the ability to ward off evil spirits and illnesses—another reason for the tradition of hanging evergreen boughs above doorways and inside homes.
Some say in 1444, the first-ever Christmas tree was in London.
In the 1500’s many believe Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, began the tradition of adding lighted candles to a tree, after walking home one winter evening when he saw twinkling stars among evergreens and wanted to re-create the magical moment for his family.
In 1771 while Christmas trees were appearing in Germany years earlier, the trend really caught on after writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe included the concept in his novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther.
The first record of a decorated evergreen tree in America was that of German settlers in Pennsylvania in the 1820s.
In 1846 Queen Victoria, German Prince Albert, and their children were shown standing around a Christmas tree in the illustrated London News. Because Victoria was very popular with her subjects at that time, the Christmas tree trend took off in both Britain and the East Coast of the United States.
When Edward H. Johnson, the vice president of Edison’s Electric Light company, decorated a tree in 1882 with 80 red, white, and blue lightbulbs and displayed it in his New York City window, a newspaper in Detroit helped him earn the title “Father of the Electric Christmas Tree.”
Some Americans were still sceptical about using electric lights on their Christmas trees, although apparently not President Grover Cleveland. He is said to have introduced the first electrically lit White House Christmas tree in 1895.
In 1903 General Electric began selling Christmas light kits so that people could decorate their Christmas trees more easily than ever.
But it was Albert Sadacca in 1917 who is believed to have really made Christmas tree lights mainstream. The New York teenager had heard about a candlelit tree that burst into flames and started stringing lights for his family’s novelty business. Painting the bulbs proved to be the ticket—and one day his business became NOMA Electric Company (National Outfit Manufacturer’s Association), the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world for many years.
The first Christmas tree went up in Rockefeller Centre in 1931—only it was a lot smaller than the ones debuted these days. And instead of an official lighting before a crowd of spectators, this one was orchestrated by construction workers.
Two years later in 1933, a lighted tree was placed in Rockefeller Centre, sparking the city’s annual tradition.
Today, after a rich history, Christmas trees (both real and artificial) have become the centre piece of the season—and a classic Christmas tradition that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
These are a few that have caught my pinterestation this year: )