Christmas Tree Origin – Where did it Start?
The Christmas tree origin did not start with the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller tree also is not the only famous tree during the holidays. Irrespective of our religious affiliations, everyone loves to put up Christmas trees at homes and business places.
It is one of the most iconic sights that herald the joys and blessings at Christmas time. Adults look forward to decorating the Christmas tree and feeling the warmth and nostalgia that surrounds it. Kids have a whole new different expectation when it comes to Christmas trees.
Businesses and shopping malls put up the mandatory Christmas tree to attract customers. On the other hand, churches and other religious institutions erect Christmas tree as it has a lot of religious connotations to it.
But how much Christmas tree history do we really know? Does the Bible even mention a Christmas tree? We find out all these and more in this comprehensive post about Christmas tree origin and where it all started.
When was the first Christmas tree?
The first-ever Christmas tree was put up in the year 1576 in a private home at Turckheim, Alsace, in present-day France. It was previously part of Germany.
The trees can be traced to the earliest Christians from Germany. It was during the 16th century when the devout Christians started the tradition of bringing a decorated tree inside their homes.
These Christmas trees were so much different than the modern trees, as we know today. The early Christians used to build a wooden structure in the shape of a pyramid and decorated it with evergreen branches.
They also put lighted candles onto the pyramid structure to make it glow in the dark.
What type of tree is a Christmas tree?
There are different types of Christmas trees. The most common types of natural Christmas trees include:
- Balsam Fir
- Canaan Fir
- Grand Fir
- Fraser Fir
- Douglas Fir
- Concolor Fir
- Noble Fir
- Scotch Pine or Scots
- White Pine
- Blue Spruce
- Virginia Pine
- White spruce
- Norway Spruce
- Arizona Cypress
- Red Cedar
- Leyland Cypress
In the olden days, some other types of trees were also used as Christmas trees. They were hawthorns and cherry trees.
Then there are those artificial Christmas trees that are mass manufactured. These types of trees are made of:
- PVC or Polyvinyl chloride
- Fiber optics
Another type of Christmas tree that has been introduced very recently is called the Yelka. This is a small Christmas tree that is made entirely of wood.
This trend was popularized by those who were environmentally conscious and were concerned about cutting down trees and also about the waste that results after the holiday season.
How did the Christmas tree come about?
The earliest known history about Christmas can be traced to the Germans, as mentioned earlier in the post. However, the possible origins and how the tree came about to go way beyond the 16th century.
In ancient Egypt, the worshippers of the god Ra used evergreen palm rushes to fill their homes during the Solstice. They believed that the god was recovering from his illness during this period, and the evergreen rush was a symbol of life triumphing over death.
The priests of the Celts in Northern Europe also decorated their places of worship with evergreen boughs as a sign of eternal life. Similarly, the Vikings also believed that the evergreen was a tree that belonged to their god Balder.
The Romans also decorated their homes and places of worship with evergreen boughs during the solstice. It was in honor of the god Saturn, who is the god of agriculture, among others.
Later on, during the 16th century, the early Christians in Germany began to bring a decorated tree inside their homes. The trees were decorated with candies, fruits, and paper flowers, which were a treat for the kids.
Another decorated tree, which was typically spruce, was set up at the market square where the young men and women danced around the tree. The tree was usually set ablaze on the last night of the celebrations.
Americans did not have a Christmas tree until the 19th century. In fact, the first-ever Christmas tree in the US was displayed around the year 1830 in Pennsylvania by the Germans who had settled in America.
However, since the trees were viewed as a pagan practice, most Americans did not accept the trees until the 1840s.
The Christmas tree became a little more acceptable when Queen Victoria was portrayed with her family in front of a Christmas tree. This was not a surprise as she was married to Prince Albert, who was German.
Since the Queen was a favorite among her subjects, her actions were emulated by those inside and outside of Britain.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Americans warmed up to the idea of a decorated tree during the holidays. Although it took a while to warm up to the tradition of Christmas trees, when the tree arrived in American homes, it was enormous compared to the ones used by the Germans.
Europeans kept their trees a bit modest in height, which was about four inches, floor to ceiling Christmas trees were common in American homes.
Fun fact: The earliest Christmas trees were called Paradise trees, symbolizing the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.
Christmas Tree or Holiday Tree?
Looking at the history and the origin of the Christmas tree, it is quite impossible to decide whether this iconic tree represents the holidays or Christmas.
In fact, there are those who are stout proponents who believe that this decorated tree symbolizes the holidays. On the other hand, others believe that there is nothing more quintessential about the birth of Christ than the Christmas tree.
The debate has even divided communities in the state of Wisconsin.
In this age of political correctness, those who call this tree a Christmas tree are considered insensitive to those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Along the same lines, those who call it the holiday tree are accused of being insensitive to those who celebrate Christmas.
But if we really take time to reflect on the spirit of Christmas, divisions on such frivolous arguments that are centered around an immaterial object is completely unnecessary.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, would the festive season be the same without this glorious tree? Are we going to keep arguing about this question and deprive the children of the joys of witnessing a Christmas tree? We bet you don’t have the heart to do so.
So irrespective of whether you view it as a Christmas tree or a holiday tree, maybe we can learn to let all contentions slide this year.
What is the symbolism of the Christmas tree?
Traditionally, evergreen boughs and trees symbolized life, triumph, and the perseverance to endure the long winter months. A number of cultures, including Romans, Egyptians, Vikings, and the Celts related evergreens to everlasting life.
The early Christians associated the decorated trees with the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. In fact, the trees in the nativity plays were called Paradise Trees in relation to the tree in the paradise of Eden. These trees were hung with fruits, much like the tree in the Garden.
In modern days, a Christmas tree symbolizes different things for a lot of people who celebrate this festival. Some of them include:
- Everlasting life
- The spirit of giving
- Exchanging of gifts during the holiday
- Gratitude to nature and appreciating the season
- Celebrating the traditions
A spiritual symbolism that is attached to a Christmas tree is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The act of cutting down a tree only to be placed in an upward position and decked in glory and grandeur is similar to the death and the glory of Christ after his resurrection from the dead. The gifts under the Christmas tree are thought to represent the gifts, including forgiveness and love to the people on earth.
How to decorate a Christmas tree?
Christmas decorations have come a long way from the candles, the fruits, and nuts that were the norm during the days of yore. These days, Christmas trees are decorated in every way, shape, and form using common and personalized items as well.
However, there are some items that are unique to a quintessential Christmas tree, and it would not be complete without it. These include:
- Candy canes
- Fairy lights
- Stocking hooks
- Poinsettias, fresh or artificial
- Other ornaments
Our top tips on how to decorate a Christmas tree:
It’s good to have a theme.
A theme for a Christmas tree sounds nonsensical at first. But decorating a tree that has a theme will look more harmonious and professional. Some of the themes you can consider are:
Invest in a good tree.
Although there is an unrivaled charm and beauty about having a real tree inside the house during Christmas, it is not the most sustainable way. Invest in an artificial or a fake Christmas tree that is of good quality and you will save a lot of money and energy. Not to mention that it is great for the environment.
Prepare the tree first.
This will include everything from making sure that it is clean to fluffing up the branches and setting it up properly. It is very unbecoming for a Christmas tree to look dirty and mangled up. Fluffing up the branches will also ensure that the tree looks great when the ornaments are hung.
Setting it up on a tree stand will make sure that the tree stays put so you can hang all your decorations and also put the gifts under the tree.
Lights before ornaments.
No Christmas tree is complete without a string of fairy lights. But before you hang the ornaments, it is best to put up the lights first. This is especially true if you do not have a pre-lit Christmas tree.
This way, you will be able to gauge the best placements for the ornaments. If, however, you hang the ornaments first before you put the lights, it can look disorderly and quite haphazard.
What is the origin of Christmas tree lights?
The lights on the Christmas tree trace its roots to the time when candles were used to decorate the paradises or Christmas trees. Back then, the melted wax was glued to the tree branches before they were lit. However, the candles were only lit for a couple of minutes in order to prevent a fire hazard.
The first-ever lighted Christmas tree in the history of mankind can be attributed to Edward H. Johnson, who was an associate of the renowned Thomas Alva Edison in 1882. He made a tree that was specially made and put it outside for everyone to see. He used incandescent lights in various colors, which was the size of walnuts.
He is widely considered as the Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights. Ironically, it was ignored by the mainstream media as they thought it was a publicity stunt, except for a sole newspaper from Detroit.
Using lights in Christmas trees got widespread popularity when President Grover Cleveland sponsored the first official Christmas tree with lights in 1895 at the White House. It was a groundbreaking tree featuring hundreds of multicolored lights.
From that year on, Christmas tree with lights became a common feature in homes and business establishments in America. Gradually, the tradition of lighting Christmas tree lights spread to the rest of the world.
Some of the common types of lamps that are used in today’s Christmas trees include different types of incandescent light bulbs, as well as LEDs or light-emitting diodes and neon lamps.
Christmas tree lights are also known as fairy lights, holiday lights, twinkle lights, and mini lights in different parts of the world. In some parts of the US, they are also called Italian lights. They are also available in a wide number of colors and configurations.
In popular culture, it is thought that the great reformer, Martin Luther, was the first to add lights to a Christmas tree in the 16th century. In the story, Luther was walking home on a cold winter’s night, all the while composing a sermon. He was struck by the magnificence of the twinkling stars among the evergreen trees.
He was inspired to recreate the magical scene in his home. When he reached home, he put up an evergreen tree in the living room and added a string of candles to its branches. Thus began the story and the tradition of adding lights to a Christmas tree.
There is no proof of evidence that is related to this endearing story, but it is inspiring and magical nonetheless.
Fun fact: The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree did not have electric lights until 1956. Earlier, candles were used to light for the Christmas tree.
Is a Christmas tree religious?
Paganism, as well as Christianity, are two completely different religions that are deeply connected to the evergreen boughs and Christmas tree in separate veins.
However, the question of whether or not the Christmas tree is religious or not is a topic up for debate. There are arguments that the Christmas tree is deeply rooted in paganism and its practices. But some other folks argue that the modern traditions of a Christmas tree have no roots in paganism.
A lot of people put up Christmas trees in their homes even if they are not Christians. They either practice it because they live in a society that is deeply rooted in the Christmas traditions or they want to make the holidays special for the kids.
The same can be said for business establishments. Although they may not celebrate Christmas, they put up the Christmas tree in their places of work. This is done so as to partake in the spirit of the holidays and also attract the festive shoppers.
On the other hand, although a mandatory Christmas tree is erected at churches, a lot of believers do not have a close connection with their faith and the Christmas tree. Along the same lines, there are others who associate Christmas and its spirit to the religious artifacts, including the Christmas tree.
For some, the history and the origin of the Christmas tree from the practices of paganism do not take the importance or the religious sentiments that are evoked by the Christmas tree. In many homes, the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree is a sacred practice that is cherished.
The Christmas tree might have its roots that are deeply steeped in paganism, but a lot of Christians and have adopted it as a Christmas icon with faith. Therefore, we might conclude that the Christmas tree is a religious object.
What does the Bible say about Christmas trees?
The question of whether or not the Bible mentions anything the Christmas tree is an interesting one. But surprisingly, a lot of folks do not know a definitive answer to it. We attempt to answer this question in this section.
A lot of people assume that a number of verses in the Bible talk about the Christmas tree. The most common verse is Jeremiah 10:1-5, which many people assume that it prohibits the use of Christmas trees.
But on close inspection, this verse talks about the futility of worshipping idols and the act of cutting down trees and worshipping parts of it while using other parts of it to warm ourselves.
There is no verse in the Bible that condones or condemns the use of Christmas trees. It is neither a sin nor something else when we decorate or hang up Christmas trees during Christmas.
Although some may argue that setting up a Christmas tree is against the teachings of the Bible, this is not true. The only time that you can go wrong against the Holy Scriptures is if you erect a Christmas tree and bow down to worship it.
If you set up the Christmas tree with good intentions and nothing other than the spirit of festivity and giving to others, there is nothing wrong with putting up a Christmas tree.
Of course, if you decide not to put up the Christmas tree, it is totally fine as well.
What is the best artificial Christmas tree?
Artificial or fake Christmas trees are the next best thing that you can have after a real Christmas tree. The best artificial Christmas tree is one that is perfect for your home and one that will last you for a couple of years. They have a lot of advantages and come in a wide variety of designs and types.
Some of the advantages of artificial Christmas trees include:
One of the primary concerns of dealing with a live Christmas tree is safety. Pine and fir trees are vulnerable to fire, and when they are cut, they become even more susceptible due to the dryness. This condition is doubled when a lot of lights that produce heat are wired on it.
Artificial Christmas trees do not have this issue, so you can put up as much as you like and leave them on for as long as you like.
Another safety issue is that branches of the natural trees tend to droop. This can cause your ornaments to drop and break. If you are someone who has a number of ornaments as heirlooms or that has been passed down from generations, this can be a tragic thing.
Artificial trees hold their shape extremely well, so your ornaments, whether precious or not, are very safe.
Artificial Christmas trees come in a multitude of designs and types, which makes them a great choice. They also come in a variety of colors and shades so you can choose the ones that suit your aesthetics at home.
An artificial Christmas tree is quite an investment unless you buy a horrible one. They will last for many years, which can save you a lot of money and time as well.
They are also very affordable, and you need not spend a fortune to buy a good quality Christmas tree. If you need some help, take a look at the lowest price artificial tree worth buying.
It is no secret that natural Christmas trees shed a lot. This creates a big deal for its maintenance. It can be a headache if you are not fastidious about cleaning or are pressed for time.
Artificial or fake Christmas trees do not have this problem at all. They are effortless to the storage, put up, and require zero maintenance.
Another great advantage of an artificial Christmas tree is that it is effortless to set up. Some of them also come pre-lit, so you do have to take the trouble and frustration of stringing the trees with the fairy lights.
If you want to take it a step further, choose a Christmas tree that has lights with remote control. You can switch between the different colors of lights, depending on your mood and the ambiance as well.
There is a lot of waste produced as a result of using live Christmas trees. Not to mention that a million trees are cut down every year.
Buying an artificial tree is a very sustainable step and is easy on the environment. An average quality tree will easily last a couple of years, which is a great way to help the planet. You do not have to be a minimalist and buy the Yelka if you choose to invest in an artificial Christmas tree.
If you are one of those who love the natural scent of a pine or fir inside your home during the holidays, you can buy a candle with the scent of the pine trees. Light these candles inside your homes all during Christmas and enjoy the wonderful scent.
A Christmas tree holds a lot of symbolism not only in the Christian faith but also for those who don’t practice the religion. It is synonymous with gifts and celebrations for the kids as well as adults alike.
People all over the world enjoy the warmth and the happiness that is associated with it. This iconic tree has come a long way from the earliest traditions of some of the world’s greatest civilizations.
Irrespective of whether we celebrate Christmas or not, we can all agree that the Christmas tree deserves all the love and the smiles that it inspires, from the young and the old.
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