Blog Post By Jona Elwell

Christmas Histor-tree

Without getting into the artificial versus live Christmas tree debate, we started wondering why we started this goofy tradition anyways.

History.com had a great overview:

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century. 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, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens and the rest is history.

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although, as noted, trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

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 and stayed put.

Whatever you celebrate, we hope the beauty, promise, and tenacity of our wonderful evergreen trees give you joy and peace throughout the season.

 

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