Sing to one of the most recognized symbols of the Holiday season. Evergreens were used for centuries to celebrate Christmas believing they would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness.
The Christmas tree began with the Germans in the 16th century. Many Christians believe it is a “tree of life” given by God as a gift to humanity. There are more than 54 Bible verses mentioning Christmas Trees, a symbol of Christ. To others the tree has always represented a symbol of fertility and new life in the darkness of winter. Even Romans used Fir trees to decorate temples during the festival of Saturnalia.
Early trees were sometimes wooden pyramids and branches of cherry or hawthorn trees put in pots hoping to flower at Christmas. They were Paradise Trees often used in Miracle Plays on Adam and Eve Saint’s day, Christmas Eve December 24th. Queen Victoria popularized the Christmas tree in the mid-1800s with her German husband Albert. Clement Moore‘s poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, then added to the image of a Christmas tree. President Franklin Pierce had the first American National Christmas Tree in the 1850s.
Decorating your tree this year, consider that the first ornaments were apples, candy canes and pastries in shapes of hearts and flowers. At the top of the tree today the star or angel, that the Wise Men and shepherds saw, was originally a baby Jesus. Glass beads and garlands were added in Germany in the early 1500s. Legend says that Martin Luther put the first candle light on the Christmas tree. Electric lights were added by Thomas Edison in 1880 outside his New York laboratory. The most lights ever on a Christmas tree was over 200,000 in Belgium in 2010.
Today we can cut our own tree, get an artificial tree, some with silver shining branches, or choose one of four major live trees. Long needle Pines, green and blue Spruce, and Balsam, Fraser, or Douglas Firs are the most popular. Christmas trees are grown in every state of our nation. Over 45 million real and artificial trees are sold at Christmas, a two billion dollar business that is environmentally sensitive.
When to take the celebration tree down? Tradition says on January 5th or 6th. This is the end of the twelve days of Christmas, known as Epiphany or Three King’s Day in Christianity. But during this season of joy celebrate the smell and sparkling of life in your tree as a gift to rebirth for all of us.
Photos from Deposit Photos and Paul-Allan Louis