Friday, December 10, 2010

History Behind Christmas Trees

I have always been fascinated by history - hence why I am studying to one day in my life teach history.

It is so important to understand the history and background of things, even as simple as a Christmas tree.

Christmas tree, for us, is just tradition. For as long as I can remember, a whole day has been devoted to going out, chopping down the tree, bringing it back, decorating it, etc. It was always a magical day for our family and it will continue to be so for my own family now.

But, why a christmas tree? Why an evergreen? WHY?!

So, I looked it up and read a few websites, such as the history channel! Who would think they have the history of christmas trees.

Turns out that the Christmas tree tradition started in Germany when Christians brought evergreens into their home and decorated them. It is believed that Martin Luther was the first to add lighted candles to trees as he tried to recreate a scene that he saw as walking.

In England, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was from Germany and brought the tradition to England. In 1848, there is an issue of Illustrated News with a sketching of their family around a tree.

The tradition was brought to America by German settlers who lived in Pennsylvania, although the craze didn't set into til the early 20th century. Americans decorated their trees with homemade ornaments while others used apples, nuts and cookies. Popcorn joined later when they were dyed colors and strung on string with berries and nuts! With the invention of electricity, lights were now able to be strung on the tree as well. Trees began to appear in town centers and individual homes.

It is apparent, as I read further and further into websites that Christmas tree's origins are not Christianity, but in fact, come from Pagans. This is not surprising, because most of Christianity's celebrations are, in fact, at the same time as Pagans. When the Christians were trying to convert the Pagans, they kept many of their religious days and allowed them to keep some traditions. It seems as if it made it easier for the transitions. This doesn't not take away from the meaning behind Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus is real. It is quite known that December 25th is not Jesus's birthday and it would be extremely hard to pinpoint a date thousands of years ago, but that is not the point. The point is the celebration of his life.

I will leave you with a few websites for you to read and check out yourselves. I find it fascinating that thousands of years ago, people worshipped and were amazed by evergreens! How cool is that!

Christmas Tree Farm Network
History of the Christmas Tree
Christian History
History Channel

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