The Christmas tree tradition as we know it today began in Germany in the 16th century. Added lighting began with Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, who was awed brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens, wired tree branches to recapture the scene.
The custom was slow to gain popularity in American. Remember, the colonies were founded by Puritans who held to a strict sacred observation of Christmas. In fact, in 1659, hanging decorations brought fines for breaking a law that made any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense.
As the numbers of German and Irish immigrants grew, the Puritan legacy lessened. Still, as late as 1840, Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
That view began to change when a sketch of Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, standing with their children around a Christmas tree, appeared in the Illustrated London News. By 1846, the custom of setting up a Christmas tree arrived on the east coast.
Early Americans decorated with homemade ornaments, fruits, and garland of popcorn or cranberries. Electricity brought lighted trees. Perhaps the most famous lighted tree is the one in Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree displayed for the first time in 1931.
Christmas trees play an important role in decorating for us. Even if we’re not at home we decorate a tree. That’s our grandson Michael decorating the tiny artificial tree we used the year we went to Frisco, CO, to have ourselves a white Christmas.
On the kitchen table, you’d find a gumdrop tree. A tradition started by my Irish grandmother.
All our Christmas decorations are in storage awaiting the new space. :-(
Looks a bit like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.
Soon, our daughter and her family will arrive, and we’ll go into the woods and cut a real tree.
Then it’ll really feel like Christmas around here.
Is a Christmas tree part of your holiday tradition?