Although the chances that you will be growing your own Christmas tree this year are slim to none, there’s a good possibility you will be purchasing one to ring in the holidays. We thought it would be fun to spread the holiday cheer with some history on one of the most beloved and well known Christmas symbols: the Christmas tree.
Way back when…
Green plants and trees have held special meaning and symbolism for people during the winter time way before the advent of Christianity. According to history.com, ancient people would hang evergreen boughs over their doors and windows during the winter seasons, and many believed that evergreens kept away evil spirits and illness.
Fun fact: The most popular Christmas trees are the Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine.
Early groups from the ancient Egyptians to the early Romans celebrated the solstice, or the longest night of the year (usually December 21 or 22), by adorning their living quarters and temples with evergreen boughs. These early groups believed that the evergreens symbolized the triumph of life over death and everlasting life, and also stood as a reminder of the green plants that would once again grow when the summer returned.
Fun fact: Over 95% of Christmas trees are shipped or bought directly from Christmas tree farms.
In the 16th century, the earliest Christmas trees appeared in Germany, in which Christians would decorate trees in their homes. Thus, Germany is credited with the Christmas tree tradition we know today.
However, Americans were late in the game with the whole Christmas tree idea. The first Christmas tree in America was seen in the 1830s by German settlers, but the Americans saw the tree as a pagan symbol and rejected the idea until the early 20th century.
Fun fact: A Christmas tree can consume as much as a quart of water a week, so make sure you are watering your tree enough! They are very thirsty plants.
Queen Victoria changed that American viewpoint in 1846, when her and her family were sketched in the Illustrated London News cheerfully standing around their Christmas tree. Unlike the royal families prior to Queen Victoria, she was known and loved by many not only in her country but around the world. And thus, the Christmas tree idea infiltrated American homes.
Fun fact: Each year, over 77 million Christmas trees are planted.
Early American Christmas trees were adorned mainly with homemade ornaments, popcorn, berries and nuts. Thanks to electricity, Christmas trees soon became lit from top to bottom and glowed all season long through snow-covered windows.
Today, Christmas trees can be seen in all over the world, including in Canada, England, Greenland, Guatemala, Brazil, Ireland, Norway, Ukraine, China and the Philippines.
Is the Christmas tree a significant part of this holiday season for you and your family? If so, we’d love to hear about it!