The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is the true symbol of Christmas. Decorated with ornaments and lights it stands patiently waiting for that special day. Ready for the gifts that will be put under it. The hot chocolate that will be drank around it and the Christmas carols that will be sung during the holiday season.
It had humble beginnings, dating as far as back as the Ancient Romans and Egyptians. For them the use of evergreens was symbolic.
Plants and trees that remained green all year were special to them and therefore they were brought indoors during the winter solstice.
Gathering evergreen branches and boughs and bringing them indoors for winter solstice was their custom. It was not necessarily to celebrate the season but rather to keep them safe and well.
You see the Egyptians believed that the use of evergreens would ward off evil as well as illnesses.
Evergreens in their homes were a necessity. Thereby protecting them from harm until the sun god could once again reappeared in the spring.
There were many different beliefs surrounding Christmas trees and evergreens!
Early Egyptians used palm rushes to decorate their homes and temples during solstice. For them the palm rushes symbolized life over death. Palm rushes were brought indoors and used to decorate and protect the inside of their temples and shelters and to await the return of their sun god, Ra.
Scandinavians used evergreens in their houses and barns to scare away the Devil! They also thoughtfully set out trees in the winter to feed the birds.
Americans use many types of evergreens during the winter months, cedar trees, pine boughs for scent and holly for wreaths. But by far our favorite is the Christmas tree.
Christmas can bring with it a long list of traditions. These can vary between countries and cultures but the one common thread in them all is the evergreen, be it a tree, a plant or a bough it is used in winter months to bestow some kind of comfort on us. Either for protection or joy.
Coming To America !
Germans also had long standing customs with evergreens. They placed a Yule tree in their homes and entranceways in winter months.
German settlers in Pennsylvania first introduced the Christmas tree to America in 1747. Community Christmas trees outside of their settlements were decorated. Fruits and nuts were used to decorate their trees.
Garland was made with popcorn and berries and they lit up their trees with the use of candles. The candles were
These practices were not accepted by Americans who saw the decorating of the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol.
Puritans thought that the German settlers were mocking this sacred day. And they would have none of it! Oliver Cromwell preached against their heathen traditions of Christmas carols and decorated trees. Considering any such tradition pagan mockery and against Christian beliefs.
However, Americans did not come to accept the custom of the Christmas tree until the 1840’s.
The Christmas Tree And The Royals
Queen Victoria and her husband, German Prince Albert were very popular in 1846. Interest in the couple and their family captivated the royal watchers.
Prince Albert, having come from Germany observed many of the German customs and traditions. The family put up a Christmas tree in the castle and it instantly attracted much attention.
The London News published an illustration of the couple and their children happily gathered around a Christmas tree. It motivated and excited all of those who saw it.
Then, as now, whatever the royals did instantly became fashionable..
It soon became very chic and acceptable to have a Christmas tree to decorate and gather your family around.
Their influence was a key factor in making the Christmas tree acceptable to bring into our homes.
Decorating The Christmas Tree
The popularity of the Christmas tree grew in Britain and America.
By the 1890’s its popularity had reached new heights. Everyone had to have one for their own homes. And so it began!
The Europeans favored the small trees, about 4 feet high while Americans believed that the bigger the tree was, the better it was.
Every household was eager to have their own Christmas tree so they could decorate it with ornaments and garland.
Homemade decorations were hung from the trees and garlands were made by carefully threading popcorn onto a string. Decorating the tree became a time for family to come together and bond while trimming their trees.
The Germans introduced their tradition of candlelit trees to America in the 1800’s. Using candles to light the tree was popular until electricity came along.
And of course, along with electricity came the invention of the Christmas tree lights.
Christmas lights became an instant success and soon thousands of Christmas lights were manufactured and sold!
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center became a Christmas tradition during the Depression Era. It all started with a simple unadorned tree in the center of the town square, placed there by a crew of construction workers.
They set an unadorned tree in the center of their work site in the hopes that the tree would bring some cheer and give people some hope during their difficult times. It worked and people clamored to the square to get a glimpse of it and admire its beauty.
Not long after that the tree in the square was decorated, strings of light were attached and decorations were hung on its branches and crowds gather to watch the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center. It then became an annual event.
In 1948 one of the tallest trees to be erected at Rockefeller Center was 100 feet tall.
Today, the giant tree at Rockefeller Center boasts over 25,000 lights and thousands of people gather every year to watch the lighting of the tree. Bringing together families with thermoses of hot chocolate, good cheer and singing Christmas carols, it is one of the highlights of the season.
The Christmas Spirit
As the popularity of the Christmas tree grew so did the spirit of Christmas. More and more towns and villages decided to get in on the fun and festivities of the season. Soon they too erected Christmas trees in their town squares and public parks.
Resulting in towns squares across America holding annual tree lighting and decorating festivities in December. The trees were decorated and the lights were hung on them and the festivities began. It brought communities and families and neighbors closer together.
And now every year, trees in town squares across America are decorated with ornaments and colorful lights.
Crowds gather together to admire their beauty and listen to the countdown of the lighting ceremony.
It was inspiring people to get a tree for their homes and join in on the festivities.
Families go to tree farms and markets in search of the perfect tree. Then excitedly taking it home to decorate with their own ornaments and homemade decorations. Singing carols and drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies while we with put up our trees is a popular family custom.
Decorating and lighting Christmas trees spark our Christmas spirit and give us that warm and fuzzy feeling. Giving us that special dose of Christmas cheer and goodwill!
Christmas Tree traditions around the world
Greenland has their trees imported because it is too cold there for them to grow their own trees.
In Britain the Norway Spruce is the traditional Christmas tree. It is a species that is native to Britain.
The parents secretly decorate the Christmas trees in Germany. On Christmas Eve it is revealed to their children and family festivities begin. Then they celebrate with treats of cookies and oranges and sweets.
A small percentage of Chinese people celebrate Christmas and they mainly use artificial trees.
In Japan Christmas is a secular holiday for the love of their children. They decorate their homes with paper ornaments, small toys and origami.
Trees are too expensive ito purchase n the Philippines. This makes making your own tree a matter of necessity. Beginning by making their tree by using bamboo sticks. And then covering the sticks in brightly colored rice paper.
In Norway, the trees are also decorated by the parents while the children anxiously wait to see it. When it is revealed to them the family joins hands to form a circle around it while singing Christmas songs.
Christmas Tree Farms
In the 1930’s all of the Christmas trees came from native tree stands. Trees were chopped down at random and brought home to decorate. Because of the masses of people chopping down the trees it caused great concern among political leaders. Forests were being clear cut all in the name of Christmas. The native trees were being depleted.
With the demand for the Christmas trees at an all time high it was clear that it was not possible to continue to allow this practice to continue for the sake of Christmas.
To supply the demand for Christmas trees, tree farms were established across the country. Growing trees specifically for the Christmas season.
There are now over 74,000 tree farms in America. Collectively growing over 350 million trees in the United States each year alone.
Tree farms grow pine, spruce and fir trees for the Christmas season. Mostly for the Christmas tree itself, but also for garlands and wreaths
The most popular height for a Christmas tree is between 6 to 7 feet tall and it takes about 7 years for a tree to grow to this height. Each year more are planted, leaving us with an unlimited supply.
Christmas Tree Production
The United States sells approximately 25 to 30 million Christmas trees each year. Canada’s top three producers of Christmas trees are are the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario.
The people that are employed directly related to Christmas tree production now surpasses 100,00 people. This number includes both full time and part time employees.
Tree faming is another multi million dollar industry that is directly related to the Christmas season.
Lessons from a Christmas Tree
Share your gifts
Bring Joy to others
Be a light in the darkness
We all fall over some times
You were born to sparkle..
Even if your garland is a little droopy
It’s okay to be a little tilted !~Jane Lee Logan