Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 4!: Thoughts on Christmas Trees

I will have helped decorate about four Christmas trees within about two weeks, so Christmas trees have been on the mind. I didn't feel like I had much of a brain or a strong stance today to blog about, so, I'm going to talk about Christmas trees: their history, the types, and the personal experiences with Christmas trees.

Wikipedia, the source of all good knowledge, has this to say about the Christmas trees:

"The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th century. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century.[1] The Christmas tree has also been known as the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.[2][3]"

I would like to know why anyone would place lit candles on a tree... I wonder how many houses burned down because of this festive decor. But, an interesting fact is that the tree "skirts" that go around the base of the tree were originally used to catch wax drippings from the candles.

Surprisingly, Christmas trees did not originate in Christian culture:

"It is frequently traced to the symbolism of evergreen trees in pre-Christian winter rites...

...The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.[7]

Alternatively, it is identified with the 'tree of paradise' of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. ...the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.[3]"

Quite intriguing in my opinion. I find it humorous that Christmas trees were originally brought in and decorated December 24th, the day right before Christmas. I know my family has the tree up right after the Thanksgiving meal practically, if not a few days before. We've also hardly ever had a real Christmas tree. Falling pine needles, sticky sap, and allergies are enough to keep my family happy faux tree owners. You may be interested to know that "the first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century...These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green." Poor geese...

Anyways, I'm going to wrap up this oh so exciting blog post to go downstairs and help put up our own faux Christmas tree, that is thankfully not made out of goose feathers.

Christmas blessings,


  1. Your posts make me smile...so much imagery. I can see little pieces of you in all of your writing.

    I tagged and nominated you on my blog for a Leibster award :) I hope you can participate! http://ruthography.blogspot.com/2012/11/leibster-award.html