gumdrop tree

12 12, 2016

Christmas Trees – the custom and traditions

By |2016-11-30T08:48:45-06:00December 12th, 2016|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

A small tabletop tree with candles stands as a tribute to our German grandfather’s ancestry. A hand sewnSt. Nicholas doll stands beside the tree.

The tradition of putting up and decorating a Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16th century.

Legend has it that Protestant reformer Martin Luther, who was awed by the brilliance of twinkling stars amidst evergreens on a nighttime walk, wired candles to Christmas tree branches to recapture the scene.

The idea of a decorated Christmas tree was slow to gain popularity in Puritan America. Puritans held to a strict sacred observation of Christmas. In fact, in 1659, hanging decorations brought fines for breaking the law against observance of December 25 (other than a church service).

The Puritan legacy diminished with the influx of German and Irish immigrants and Christmas trees became the focal point of those who celebrate Christmas in America.

Thinking about Christmas trees from childhood is sure to stir a bit of nostalgia.

I can remember piling into the family station wagon and driving into the Texas hill country to cut the perfect tree. We’d sing Christmas carols and eat a picnic lunch. Fun times.

I’d stare for hours at the icicles reflecting in the multi-colored bulbs then beg to be in charge of cutting off the lights before bedtime so I could stay up late.  I might add that those icicles had to hang single strand over single branches. Daddy was always watching to be sure.

Once I married and we had our own tree, I’d planned to throw the icicles haphazardly on the tree. Somehow, it didn’t look right. Or maybe it was Daddy’s voice echoing in my head.

Christmas trees continue to play an important role in our holiday decorating.

In Houston, we placed multiple trees around our Victorian home. Most were artificial and each tree had its own theme.

For years we’ve collected White House and Texas Capitol ornaments. Those collections hang on gold-branched display trees every year.

With the Rio Grande National Forest as our backyard, we can secure a permit, take a short hike, and have a fresh cut tree whenever we’re ready to decorate.

I do miss all the little helpers I had in years past. Putting gumdrops on the gumdrop tree by myself (a tradition from my Irish grandmother)  isn’t the same.

gumdroptreeThis year our new four-legged baby, Finnegan MacCool will be helping, which may or may not be a good thing.stockinghelp

Here’s Finn helping me make a Christmas stocking for the newest family member-our granddaughter’s new husband.

Should be fun time decorating the Christmas tree this year with an Old English sheepdog puppy. At five months everything is a chew toy.

How’s the decorating going at your place? Is a Christmas tree part of your holiday tradition?

16 12, 2013

Christmas Customs & Traditions – Christmas Tree

By |2013-12-16T06:00:30-06:00December 16th, 2013|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

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.

Our tribute to our German ancestry.

Our tribute to our German ancestry.

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.

QueenThat 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.

Dec222007_7583-2

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.

TX ornaments-2When we lived in Texas, we had trees in every room. Each tree was special. A tree with Texas state capitol ornaments graced a corner of the dining room.

Two trees with White House collectible ornaments sat on the dining table.White House ornaments-2White House ornaments-1

Upstairs in the loft, we set up a Victorian tree with our vintage ornaments surrounded by children’s toys…a tribute to Albert and Victoria.Victorian tree-2

Some years we had creative trees like this one done by our grandson Matthew from giant TinkerToys.DSC03553

On the kitchen table, you’d find a gumdrop tree. A tradition started by my Irish grandmother.

gumdrop tree-2This year we’re in our new home in Colorado in the middle of adding a garage addition with a bedroom and studies above.

All our Christmas decorations are in storage awaiting the new space. 🙁

But Christmas will not be Christmas without a tree so we bought a small living tree that we’ll replant when we do landscaping in the spring.tree (2)-rotated

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.

YOUR TURN:

Is a Christmas tree part of your holiday tradition?