Christmas tree origins

Posted: December 6, 2013

Traditions surround the tree

Christmas is celebrated throughout America with the erecting of the Christmas tree. But where did this tree originate?

As early as 1570, people erected trees hung with nuts, paper flowers, apples, and dates. The custom was originally a pagan tradition where the people would hang evergreen in their homes and barns to scare away the devil and of setting up tree for birds in the winter.

The green trees that dwell in American living rooms during the Christmas season today are of a lot closer relation to the 17th century versions of them than some may think.

Christmas trees of 17th century Germany were lit with candles and often hanging with goodies such as cakes, candy canes and other candies.

In the 1800s when Queen Victoria was a child, a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. After her marriage to her German cousin, Prince Albert, in 1841, the custom of the tree became more and more common.

Closer to home, Minnehaha’s Rev. Dan Bergstrom recalls it this way.

“To me,” he said, “it’s [the Christmas tree] largely symbolic of family, faith and the season; bringing good smells and the warmth of the light into the home.”

Bergstrom also adds that even in the dead of winter, the tree seems to  “give light” to the seemingly endless dark, cold and relentless winter nights.

More modern traditions are the hanging of tinsel and ornaments on the tree. Another mix of religions surrounding the Christian faith, have integrated the custom of putting an angel or star at the top of the Tree as a way of proclaiming the good news of Christmas.

Ornaments of all shapes, sizes, and tastes are hung in our trees.

Junior Emma Tyler said her favorite ornament is ” Defiantly a gingerbread man that has a string with a peppermint at the bottom of it and the gingerbread man’s arms go up and down and wave to you!” with a laugh. “The most hilarious ornament we have,” said Tyler, “is this black Santa and he’s really old and everything is all falling out and his eye is all janky, so it’s pretty bizarre to put on the tree.”

Sophomore Alex Wilson comments “There’s one that’s a gum-drop reindeer, with a gum-drop legs, and gum-drop antlers. I got it from my best friend when I was in third grade.”

Senior Kent Reese said, “There’s this mass of ginger bread that I made when I was three, and it’s just kind of blotched out with frosting.”

No matter what Christian tradition someone follows, the Christmas tree seems to be the steadfast center of the holiday, from its bright shining star to the lingering smell of evergreen it leaves in people’s homes.



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