The history of Christmas trees goes back to the symbolic use of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome and continues with the German tradition of candlelit Christmas trees first brought to America in the 1800s. Discover the history of the Christmas tree, from the earliest winter solstice celebrations to Queen Victoria’s decorating habits and the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City.
Watch Christmas documentaries on HISTORY Vault
How Did Christmas Trees Start?
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
Did you know? Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from his illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes, which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon, farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.
Christmas Trees From Germany
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
Who Brought Christmas Trees to America?
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Center tree is located at Rockefeller Center, west of Fifth Avenue from 47th through 51st Streets in New York City.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree dates back to the Depression era. The tallest tree displayed at Rockefeller Center arrived in 1948. It was a Norway Spruce that measured 100 feet tall and hailed from Killingworth, Connecticut.
The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931. It was a small unadorned tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights. These days, the giant Rockefeller Center tree is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights.
Christmas Trees Around the World
Christmas Trees in Canada
German settlers migrated to Canada from the United States in the 1700s. They brought with them many of the things associated with Christmas we cherish today—Advent calendars, gingerbread houses, cookies—and Christmas trees. When Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, put up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1848, the Christmas tree became a tradition throughout England, the United States, and Canada.
Christmas Trees in Mexico
In most Mexican homes the principal holiday adornment is el Nacimiento (Nativity scene). However, a decorated Christmas tree may be incorporated in the Nacimiento or set up elsewhere in the home. As purchase of a natural pine represents a luxury commodity to most Mexican families, the typical arbolito (little tree) is often an artificial one, a bare branch cut from a copal tree (Bursera microphylla) or some type of shrub collected from the countryside.
Christmas Trees in Great Britain
The Norway spruce is the traditional species used to decorate homes in Britain. The Norway spruce was a native species in the British Isles before the last Ice Age, and was reintroduced here before the 1500s.
Christmas Trees in Greenland
Christmas trees are imported, as no trees live this far north. They are decorated with candles and bright ornaments.
Christmas Trees in Guatemala
The Christmas tree has joined the “Nacimiento” (Nativity scene) as a popular ornament because of the large German population in Guatemala. Gifts are left under the tree on Christmas morning for the children. Parents and adults do not exchange gifts until New Year’s Day.
Christmas Trees in Brazil
Although Christmas falls during the summer in Brazil, sometimes pine trees are decorated with little pieces of cotton that represent falling snow.
Christmas Trees in Ireland
Christmas trees are bought anytime in December and decorated with colored lights, tinsel, and baubles. Some people favor the angel on top of the tree, others the star. The house is decorated with garlands, candles, holly, and ivy. Wreaths and mistletoe are hung on the door.
Christmas Trees in Sweden
Most people buy Christmas trees well before Christmas Eve, but it’s not common to take the tree inside and decorate it until just a few days before. Evergreen trees are decorated with stars, sunbursts, and snowflakes made from straw. Other decorations include colorful wooden animals and straw centerpieces.
Christmas Trees in Norway
Nowadays Norwegians often take a trip to the woods to select a Christmas tree, a trip that their grandfathers probably did not make. The Christmas tree was not introduced into Norway from Germany until the latter half of the 19th century; to the country districts it came even later. When Christmas Eve arrives, there is the decorating of the tree, usually done by the parents behind the closed doors of the living room, while the children wait with excitement outside. A Norwegian ritual known as “circling the Christmas tree” follows, where everyone joins hands to form a ring around the tree and then walk around it singing carols. Afterwards, gifts are distributed.
Christmas Trees in Ukraine
Celebrated on December 25th by Catholics and on January 7th by Orthodox Christians, Christmas is the most popular holiday in the Ukraine. During the Christmas season, which also includes New Year’s Day, people decorate fir trees and have parties.
Christmas Trees in Spain
A popular Christmas custom is Catalonia, a lucky strike game. A tree trunk is filled with goodies and children hit at the trunk trying to knock out the hazel nuts, almonds, toffee, and other treats.
Christmas Trees in Italy
In Italy, the presepio (manger or crib) represents in miniature the Holy Family in the stable and is the center of Christmas for families. Guests kneel before it and musicians sing before it. The presepio figures are usually hand-carved and very detailed in features and dress. The scene is often set out in the shape of a triangle. It provides the base of a pyramid-like structure called the ceppo. This is a wooden frame arranged to make a pyramid several feet high. Several tiers of thin shelves are supported by this frame. It is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pine cones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides. A star or small doll is hung at the apex of the triangular sides. The shelves above the manger scene have small gifts of fruit, candy, and presents. The ceppo is in the old Tree of Light tradition which became the Christmas tree in other countries. Some houses even have a ceppo for each child in the family.
Christmas Tree Trivia and Facts
Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.
In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.
Between 1887-1933 a fishing schooner called the Christmas Ship would tie up at the Clark Street bridge and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.
The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas fir in the town of Woodinville, Washington.
Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.
Most Christmas trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet.
In 1912, the first community Christmas tree in the United States was erected in New York City.
Christmas trees generally take six to eight years to mature.
Ninety-eight percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms.
More than 1,000,000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees.
On average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.
You should never burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace. It can contribute to creosote buildup.
Other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.
Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees.
In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.
Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.
Tinsel was once banned by the government. Tinsel contained lead at one time. Now it’s made of plastic.
The best-selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine.
History of Christmas Trees
February 22, 2022
A&E Television Networks
December 8, 2021
Original Published Date
October 27, 2009
Navigating Medicare should not be feel like a maze but it can be a complicated and confusing process. The amount of anecdotal information concerning choices for Medicare coverage can be difficult to filter. I want to help you learn and understand the basic Medicare benefits from the federal government that you are entitled to and have earned as a worker here in the United States. Medicare is complex, and it can often feel overwhelming when you’re learning about Medicare and shopping around for coverage for the first time. Medicare faces a number of important issues and challenges, perhaps none greater than providing affordable, quality care to an aging population while keeping the program financially secure for future generations. My goal is always the same with everyone or when I am simply writing an article for publication. I want to provide helpful information about Medicare and protect you from unnecessary spending costs. Those already in Medicare or aging into Medicare should be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect at all times. Of course, I won’t be able to answer all the questions in one simple book with only 25 of the most commonly asked questions.
This book is meant to help you sift through some of the noise to get the information you need.
The best overall quick reference guide to understanding your Medicare options.
In this book, you will learn numerous need-to-know gems. Many people are unaware of the dangers that fall at their feet when they decide to retire. If you are not prepared, you can be penalized tremendously. It is shocking what may lay ahead after you have worked all these years paying your taxes as a good American citizen. Try not to be fooled or dismayed! As a licensed agent, I was absolutely shocked at what may lie ahead for our precious seniors. The snowballing effect of these penalties for Part A, Part B, and Part D can really add up to a lot of money. If you do not figure out a plan, it can consume an entire chunk of your social security benefit payment.
BONUS ADD-ON **** Hilarious Jokes for the Elderly
Telling jokes to friends is a great way to get a laugh if the joke is funny enough and reaches the right audience. I certainly hope these jokes tickle your funny bones because the experience of aging is universal.
(Click on title link to order)
Audrey Childers is a published author, blogger, freelance journalist and an entrepreneur with over a decade of experience in research and editorial writing. She is also the creator and founder of the website the hypothyroidismchick.com. Where you can find great tips on everyday living with hypothyroidism. She enjoys raising her children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. She is the published author of : A survivors cookbook guide to kicking hypothyroidism booty, Reset your Thyroid, The Ultimate guide to healing hypothyroidism and A survivors cookbook guide to kicking hypothyroidism booty: the slow cooker way. You can find all these books on Amazon. This blog may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
Thehypothyroidismchick.com is dedicated to covering health and science news that matters most to our generation. We cover a wide range of stories, but ultimately we are driven by two core values: first, to contribute to our readers’ understanding of what is a very complex and constantly changing field of information, and second, to keep in mind the ultimate “smell test” — we want our stories to be the kind of things you talk about at a bar with your friends. Thehypothyroidismchick.com determines coverage based on relevance, clinical significance, and editorial integrity. We give no priority to commercial considerations, and will always clearly distinguish between factual content, commentary, and opinions to avoid misleading readers with institutional propaganda. and speculation.
There is a war raging against humanity and our earth. We have been passively indoctrinated and so utterly pre-programmed that we do not ask the questions that need to ask. We have laid our trust completely in those in power or someone with a title behind their name. People conditioned blindly believing in things simply because enough people assured us it was true. Infectious diseases have been irradiated but chronic diseases are the new black plague of our modern time. This book is profoundly personal as it represents a mission brimming with meaning. As I reflect on extraordinary truths about our nation’s health history, current, and future, I also offer you wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We must stop the atrocities if we want to become a healthier nation in the future. We must stop the atrocities if we want the human race to survive. I hope my voice and advocacy will continue to help lead the way and this book will make changes for current and future generations to come. No, I simply do not have all the answers but I have written plenty in this book to make you start questioning EVERYTHING.
What you are about to discover is terrifying.
A Women’s Holistic Holy Grail Handbook for Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s: How I healed my Hypothyroidism and Autoimmune Disorder with Personalized Nutrition
I hoped you’ve been enlightened and not frightened by my latest blog — A tale of recovery to save a woman who caught OCD, Hypothyroidism and an Autoimmune Disorder –
Please follow along with me on this journey of discovery as I share with you my brush of madness with exquisite clarity. Luckily, I was never a quick fix-it junkie where I said no to many suggestions from board certified or certifiable doctors because I felt it in my soul that it was merely a banaide being placed on my issues. The names of certain doctors have been changed because frankly, I don’t want to be sued for proven their lack in their field.
Hippocrates was right when he said: Let they food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
The information and recipes contained in blog is based upon the research and the personal experiences of the author. It’s for entertainment purposes only. Every attempt has been made to provide accurate, up to date and reliable information. No warranties of any kind are expressed or implied. Readers acknowledge that the author is not engaging in the rendering of legal, financial, medical or professional advice. By reading this blog, the reader agrees that under no circumstance the author is not responsible for any loss, direct or indirect, which are incurred by using this information contained within this blog. Including but not limited to errors, omissions or inaccuracies. This blog is not intended as replacements from what your health care provider has suggested. The author is not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the suggestions, preparations or procedures discussed in this blog. All matters pertaining to your health should be supervised by a health care professional. I am not a doctor, or a medical professional. This blog is designed for as an educational and entertainment tool only. Please always check with your health practitioner before taking any vitamins, supplements, or herbs, as they may have side-effects, especially when combined with medications, alcohol, or other vitamins or supplements. Knowledge is power, educate yourself and find the answer to your health care needs. Wisdom is a wonderful thing to seek. I hope this blog will teach and encourage you to take leaps in your life to educate yourself for a happier & healthier life. You have to take ownership of your health.
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the writer. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.