As we all get ready to decorate our firs, getting to know the story behind the Christmas Tree might turn useful. Few are aware of the long way the Christmas tree has come until it finally got to the form we know today.
Although these legends and stories haven’t been attested, literature excerpts suggest us that the first to use trees for holidays were the pre-Christian communities. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used to cut green branches and to hang them in their homes to celebrate victories and to worship Gods.
German pagans had a particular preference for firs and spruce because their triangular shape is a good reminder of Trinity. These trees used to be decorated with white and red ornaments because, according to the Bible, the divine Tree of Paradise had red apples and white wafers. Taking his inspiration from them, Martin Luther was the first of the Protestants to replace other trees with evergreen species in the 16th Century.
It was only in the 18th Century that the Christmas tree began to acquire the form we know today. The Protestant Church introduced this custom in Rhineland and Austria. Once in Vienna, the Christmas tree put on more extravagant decorations; thus, becoming a common custom among city residents. During the 19th Century, emigrants took the tradition of the new luxurious Christmas tree overseas, where it has acquired new meanings and habits.
Beginning of the 20th Century
By the end of the 19th Century, the beginning of the 20th Century, the traditions of Christmas trees were very similar to modern ones. It was particularly the noble families of Europe that celebrated the decoration of the Christmas tree on the night of December 24th. Historical data suggests families used to gather around the tree, sing songs and embellish it with sugary adornments. All presents would be placed round the Christmas tree, but nobody was allowed to open them until the Christmas morning.
Noblemen and women, who traveled to the United States, as well as immigrants have brought the tradition of the Christmas tree with them. Celebrations differed from one state to another at the beginning of the Century, but the industrialization and the advent of television have eventually changed the looks of the Christmas tree.
German immigrants began inventing new decorations for their Christmas trees. Thus, it was in the U.S. that candy canes were first hung on fir branches, along with paper ornaments. Later, Edward H. Johnson, the President of Edison Electric Light Company was the first to use Christmas light installation in his home in New York.
The traditional image of the red-and-green Christmas tree is getting gradually replaced with non-conventional trees and materials. While some choose unusual color combinations for their Christmas Trees, others have completely replaced the evergreen tree with modern tree-shaped wallpapers or Christmas lights arrangements. Lately, artificial Christmas trees are gaining more territory due to environmentally friendly campaigns.
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