History of the Christmas Tree The Christmas Tree is one of the most enduring and beautiful symbols that we associate with this special time of the year. This article details facts and information about the History of the Christmas Tree. Everyone loves the custom and tradition of decorating trees but where did this all start? Discover the facts and some unusual and interesting information about the History of the Christmas Tree.
History of the Christmas Tree - Pagan Traditions and History The history of the Christmas tree is often explained as a Christianization of pagan tradition and ritual surrounding the Winter Solstice. We need to go back to the Pagan times of the Egyptians, Romans and Celts to provide an insight into the Christmas Tree history, its significance and its origins. The exact origin and history of the Christmas tree is unclear, as are the pagan rituals which surrounded it. From the earliest times, trees have been the focus of religious life for many people around the world. The tree has been a major source of stimulation to the mythic imagination as it is the largest growing thing on earth and the longest lasting. The Christmas Tree, as it is now designated, is an evergreen and this has been taken into account in our History of the Christmas Tree and its possible Pagan origins. Following this ancient Pagan period in history with it's beliefs and customs the Christians adapted the old pagan ceremonies and brought some of these rituals into the Christian religion.
History of the Christmas Tree - Egyptian History The history of the Christmas tree starts with the ancient Egyptians who were known to use plants in their religious ceremonies. Evergreen plants were seen by the Egyptians as manifestations of the abiding life and used used as sacramental means of contact with the spirit of growth and fertility. In Egypt, the evergreen date palm was a sacred tree, and a palm branch was the symbol of the god Heh who was the personification of eternity.
History of the Christmas Tree - Early Pagan History In many early Pagan beliefs the tree was considered magical as it’s roots extended beneath the earth was a great mystery. Some religious Pagan cults, such as those of the Ancient Egyptians, believed in the Underworld. Many Pagans believed that the Gods transformed themselves into trees and this is reflected in the religious history and beliefs of the ancient Greeks. Pagans were known to cut down trees, carve or decorate them in the form of a god or goddess then overlay them with precious metals and bring them into a house or temple.
History of the Christmas Tree - Celtic History & the Winter Solstice The Bronze and Iron Age saw the emergence of the Celts who were established across Europe by 400BC. The pagan Celts and their priests, who were called Druids, placed great significance on the Winter Solstice and religious ceremonies were held in honour of the return of the sun which at the winter solstice begins gradually to regain power and to ascend on the horizon. The Winter Solstice occurs December 22/23, a similar time to our modern day Christmas celebrations. The ancient Celts believed that the first humans were descended from trees. The history of the Celts details that trees, such as the oak, were highly revered and the Celts started the tradition of burning the Yule Log. The Celts believed trees to be sources of sacred wisdom and this was associated with wisdom by the Druids.
History of the Christmas Tree - Greek History The Greeks also played a part in the history of the Christmas Tree. According to ancient traditions the first Greek temples were originally trees, and later made of trees. The stone temples which were built in later years continued to be associated with the 'holy tree' and this was reflected in their use of columns in Greek architecture. In several Greek myths, women and men are frequently transformed into trees
History of the Christmas Tree - The Old Testament of the Bible The history of the Christmas Tree continues with the Old Testament of the Bible. The Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible makes mention of two trees - the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that grow at the centre of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9). The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them.
History of the Christmas Tree - Roman History The History of the Romans also impacts the Christmas tree. The Roman Empire and the tradition of the Roman pagan holiday of Saturnalia was observed at the winter solstice. It is a common-held belief that the 25th December was chosen in order to substitute the joy of a Christian festival for the license of the Pagan Saturnalia which was kept during this season. The Pagan winter festivals of the Romans were connected with agricultural life. The Romans also worshipped the sacred fig-tree of Romulus.
History of the Christmas Tree - The History of the Christian Religion The Christian religion began with the birth of Jesus Christ who lived in he Roman Empire. This small religious cult spread its word and even the Romans were converted to Christianity when the Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. In 313 Constantine announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan and Christianity became the religion of Rome and all her territories in Europe and in the East. The fall of Rome led to the period referred to as the Dark Ages when many people returned to their old Pagan religions and practises.
History of the Christmas Tree - Viking History and Saxon History History then moved on to the Age of the Vikings and the Saxons - The German Saxons and the Vikings, worshipped their god Thor and the name Yule derives from the Norse words "Yul" or "Jul". Their rituals were included in the ceremonies of other pagan religions. Pagan ceremonies and customs included the use of evergreen boughs, an adaptation of pagan tree worship.
History of the Christmas Tree - St. Boniface and the History of Thor's Oak At this point in history we see the importance of the pagan religions on the history of the Christmas tree. The origin of the Christmas tree origin is possibly related to Thor's Oak. Thor's Oak was a massive tree and one of the most important sacred sites of the pagan Germanic peoples. Boniface was an English monk who went to Germany to convert pagans to Christianity. According to legend, myth and tradition Thor's Oak was chopped down by Boniface. As the oak fell a young fir tree appeared - the tree of life representing Jesus Christ. When this happened Boniface declared the the fir tree growing in its roots to be a new symbol of Christianity.
History of the Christmas Tree - The History of the Paradise Tree of the Middle Ages The Paradise Tree plays an important role in the history of the Christmas tree. During the Medieval era of the Middle Ages 'Mystery Plays' featuring the Paradise Tree were staged. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a “paradise tree,” a fir tree hung with apples, that represented the Garden of Eden. The play that was held every December 24, which was Adam and Eve's Day. This was the real origin of the modern day Christmas Tree.
History of the Christmas Tree - Medieval Era History The history of the Medieval era started with the acceptance of using a tree in the religious Mystery plays. In 1510 the first recorded Christmas tree was in the Town Hall Square in Riga in Latvia and was erected at Christmas to celebrate the New Year. In 1539 the Christmas tree had gained enough religious acceptance that one was erected in the Cathedral of Strasbourg, Alsace. By 1561 people in Germany and the German speaking regions of France were adopting the custom of the Christmas tree. The Forest Ordinance of Ammerschweier, a German speaking region of Alsace, stated "No burgher shall have for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight shoes length," indicating that Christmas Trees were being put into homes. German Guilds decorated Christmas trees with fruits, nuts and other treats for the children of guild members. In 1605 a Strasburg citizen wrote "At Christmas, they set up fir-trees in the parlours at Strasburg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil and sweets...". Tinsel and baubles for decorating the Christmas tree were made in Germany and the German Christmas markets were established.
History of the Christmas Tree - The Protestant Reformation and Christmas trees are banned The history of the Christmas Tree came to an abrupt halt. The Protestant Reformation (1517–1648) brought with it a distrust of pomp and ceremony. This led to the banning of all Christmas festivities and any traditions which could be associated with pagan religions. Along with carols and feasting, Christmas trees were forbidden.
History of the Christmas Tree - History of 1600 - 1700's The History of the Protestant religion took a downturn in England when the old ways returned to England with the restoration of King Charles II. Old observances were again practised by the majority of people. Christmas trees were being used to decorate homes in England a tradition started by the Georgian German Kings of England.
History of the Christmas Tree - History of 1800's The history of the Christmas Tree began to gain real popularity. In 1821 the Pennsylvania Dutch are believed to have introduced the Christmas tree to America. In 1841 Prince Albert, the German prince who married the English Queen Victoria set up the first Christmas tree at Windsor Castle.This custom soon became all the rage in fashionable and wealthy English households. A massive Christmas tree was present at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London due to the idea from Prince Albert and this increased its popularity worldwide. The Christmas tree was popularised in France when Princess Helene of Mecklenburg brought it to Paris. Small candles were attached to the branches of the Christmas tree providing a magical atmosphere in rich people's own houses.
History of the Christmas Tree - History of the Commercialism of Trees The history of the Christmas tree was affected by commercialism which had started with the manufacture of Christmas tree decorations in Germany. Christmas tree balls and baubles were originally made of glass and invented in the small German town of Lauscha following the success from the sales of tinsel. Christmas tree decorations were soon mass produced and were able to be enjoyed by the majority of people not just the rich. Commercially cut trees were first sold in America from the markets of Philadelphia. The first American made glass ornaments and baubles were created by William DeMuth in New York in 1870. Woolworth's started to sell inexpensive, commercially produced Christmas Tree decorations which made them affordable to everyone and in 1882 Edward H. Johnson, the vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, had red, white and blue electric incandescent light bulbs wired to his Christmas tree. Electric tree lights became less expensive and were widely in the 1930's. The History of the Christmas Tree still continues in the modern day era with changes in technology which have seen the emergence of artificial trees and Christmas Tree accessories such as LED Christmas light and fibre optic trees!
History of the Christmas Tree
History of the Christmas Tree - Pagan History
History and Origins of the Tree - Roman and Greek History
History of the Christmas Tree - Vikings and Saxons
History of the Christmas Tree - St. Boniface and Thor's Oak
History of the Christmas Tree - The Paradise Tree of the Middle Ages
History of the Christmas Tree - The Medieval Era
History of the Christmas Tree - The Protestant Reformation
History of the Christmas Tree - 1600's, 1700's & 1800's
History of the Christmas Tree - Commercialism
History of the Christmas Tree
"Merry Christmas, have a happy and prosperous New Year!"