Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is perhaps the most important part of the holiday decorations, so I thought I would take a moment to see how this charming tradition came about.

The first known Christmas trees to be erected were in the the 1400's in what is now Estonia and Latvia. They were originally set up and decorated in a public place, such as the town square, so that they could be shared and enjoyed by the entire village. The people of the town or village would have a great big party on Christmas with dancing around the tree that was decorated with fruits, paper flowers, and nuts. All of the dainties were eaten off of the tree and then the townspeople set it afire!

Although there is much debate about who erected the first Christmas tree in America it appears to have been in the end of the 18th century, and it continued to be a custom among German communities until Americans of other nationalities found it to be fashionable in Europe in the 1840's to the 1850's.

The tradition of decorating fir trees in Europe began in the early 1800's and with Queen Victoria's marriage to German, Prince Albert Christmas trees became increasingly popular in England. The image of the British royal family's tree in Godey's Lady's Book, December 1850 and by 1870 most households decorated their own Christmas trees.

It was considered bad luck to put up your Christmas tree before December 23 or to take it down before January 6, the Twelfth Night, commercialization has since encouraged the custom of putting up of the tree much earlier.

I hope today to go to my neighbors and cut one of their trees for my own house this afternoon!

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