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The history of the xmas tree

Posted by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:40 PM
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Dating back centuries before Christ, cultures brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the winter solstice, which occurs in the northern hemisphere between December 21st and 22nd. Although the specific practices were different in each country and culture, the symbolization was generally the same: to celebrate the return of life at the beginning of winter's decline.

Christmas TreeEgyptians particularly valued evergreens as a symbol of life's victory over death. They brought green date palm leaves into their homes around the time of thewinter solstice.

Christmas TreeRomans had a public festival called Saturnalia, which lasted one week beginning on December 17th, and included a variety of celebrations around the winter solstice. Curiously, the Roman winter solstice was marked on December 25th on the Julian calendar. These celebrations are thought to have merged with pagan practices of hanging mistletoe and the burning of the Yule log.

Father Christmas

Christmas TreeIn Britain, the Yule log was originally seen as a magical amulet, and eventually made it into the hand's of Father Christmas. In Italy the Yule log is still burned for the "Festa di Ceppo". In Catalonia, the log is wrapped in a blanket until Christmas Eve, when it's unwrapped and burned for the custom of "fer cagar el tio". And in Serbia, families bring the Yule log (known as a "badnjak") into their homes on Christmas Eve to be burned along with prayers to God to bring happiness, luck, and riches.

Christmas TreeDruid priests in Great Britain also used evergreen plants and mistletoe in pagan ceremonies, and the mistletoe plant was the symbol of the birth of a god. Celtic Druids and Norseman of Scandinavia also used mistletoe in a mysterious ceremony just after the winter solstice.

Christmas TreeIn the mid 1500's, Germans began using evergreen trees as a symbol of hope for the coming of spring. This practice is likely to have gradually evolved from pagan rituals of past, and merged with the celebration of Christmas leading to the tree's Christian beginnings.

by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:40 PM
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by Ruby Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Christian Beginnings

St. Boniface

Although it's unlikely that the Christmas tree as we know it today was first used in the 7th Century, some people believe the idea for the tree was invented by St. Boniface at that time. There are different legends regarding how St. Boniface invented the Christmas tree. Some claim he used the triangular shape of the fir tree to symbolize the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to un-believers, and that these new converts began to worship the tree as a Christian symbol. Another version of this legend claims that St. Boniface chopped down an oak tree worshiped by pagans, and used a fir tree growing in the roots of the oak as a symbol of Jesus.

There are also claims that the first proper Christmas tree was erected in Riga, Latvia in 1510. Today, there is a plaque in the Town Hall Square in Riga that is engraved with the text "The First New Year's Tree in Riga in 1510". It is believed that this tree was burned during a New Year's celebration, and possibly decorated with paper flowers. However, it seems more likely that this celebration was related more to the Christmas tree's pagan past.

First Christmas Tree

The most likely Christian beginnings of the modern Christmas tree were in the mid 1500's in Germany. In 1521 in the region of Alsace (formerly part of Germany), the first pine tree was decorated and used in a Christmas celebration. In 1539, in the Cathedral of Strasbourg, there are church records that state a Christmas tree was used for the Christmas celebration. And in 1570 there are reports from a Bremen guild cronical that a fir tree was decorated with fruits and nuts which children ate on Christmas day.

In the 1700's the Christmas tree custom had spreadthroughout northern Germany, and people began decorating the tree with candles that were lit on Christmas Eve, as is still done today in many homes across Europe. As the Christmas tree custom spread through Germany, the Roman Catholic Church eventually recognized it in the early 1800's. It was introduced to Vienna in 1816, quickly spreading across Austria, and in 1840 to France by the duchesse d'Orleans.

The Christmas tree was introduced separately in different US cities by German immigrants, most likely in the mid 1700's. Several US cities claim to have had thefirst Christmas tree in America. Bethlehem, PA appears to have had the first decorated Christmas tree in 1747 at the German Moravian Church settlement, however it was made by putting evergreen branches on a wooden pyramid! Windsor Locks, CT claims they have earliest date in 1777, while Easton, PA also claims the first Christmas tree in 1816! Since these first real Christmas trees, there have been many changes leading to today's modern Christmas tree!

by Ruby Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Today's Christmas Trees

Buying a Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree has come a long way, from its pagan origins as an evergreen symbol of life in pre-Christian times to its rapid spread throughout Europe and America in the 1800's. Today it's the center of most Christmas celebrations around the world, and comes in a huge variety of styles.

In 1851 Mark Carr opened the first Christmas tree retail lotin New York, and from that time onward the use of Christmas trees in family homes took off. While most people now purchase their trees from Christmas tree lots (where the vast majority of Christmas trees are now sold), a substantial number get them from "cut your own" farms. Additionally, artificial Christmas trees have become more and more popular in recent years.

Decorated Christmas Tree

While most people imagine artificial Christmas trees to be a recent invention, they've actually been in use as long as natural Christmas trees have in the United States. In fact it appears the first use of a Christmas tree in America was an artificial onemade of evergreen branches attached to wooden pyramids in 1747. Artificial trees were also made of feathers in Germany, and mass produced with brush bristles (using the same machinery made to manufacture toilet brushes!) in 1930 by Addis Brush Company in the USA.

Upside Down Christmas Tree

Today's artificial trees come in an amazing variety of styles, from flocked and colored trees in such outlandish colors as black, pink, and red, to upside down trees (which also surprisingly have old roots in Germany and Austria). Whether people use real or artificial trees, today they're almost always decorated with a combination of lights, ornaments, other foliage, and treats. Most families around the world place presents beneath their trees to be opened on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, and you'll find them in nearly every place of business in the weeks before Christmas.

Throughout the history of the Christmas tree there's been plenty of controversysurrounding it, and the controversy hasn't ceased to this day!

by Silver Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:44 PM
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 And the WAR on Christmas has begun!!


by Christy on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:45 PM
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Great information. This is the first time I have heard of the upside down tree.

by René on Nov. 26, 2011 at 4:51 PM

Quoting sineado39:

 And the WAR on Christmas has begun!!


You know it lol

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver




by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:09 PM
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I want to know what christ has to do with christmas since 90% of all christians now know and accept that its not his birth? i mean seriously why keep the lie alive? is there honestly a point? we do Yule and Winter Solstice in the house and Christmas with memaw only because it pleases her

by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Oh and we all know that the Heathens are out to get christmas and are winning lol

by Member on Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:11 PM
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by JENN on Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:15 PM

 We are getting our Christmas tree tomorrow! :)

by on Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Quoting silvercrow:

 90% of all christians now know and accept that its not his birth?

Would love to know where you got the 90% statistic. Every single Christian I know still really believes Jesus was born on Christmas Day.

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