What better way to start the month of December as well as counting down to Christmas via an advent calendar blog than with a Christmas Tree? Whether it be a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, a fake Christmas tree, or a real one; nothing quite says Christmas like a tree. I never got to know the
joys of a real Christmas tree until my husband and I moved in together (before we got married). My father is highly allergic to real trees so every year we had a fake tree. I love the smell of a real tree and I could not even think of having a fake one in my home now. Well I could when I think about the pine
needles that seem to spread throughout the home and are found even months after the tree is long gone. For those that already have their trees up and decorated, I envy you. Sort of. I still have no clue where we would put our tree once we brought it into our apartment. We are still in the middle of unpacking since our move this fall.
The Christmas tree has come to be a symbol of Christmas. It is the centerpiece of the home to say that the holiday season is upon us. It is usually the first thing to be put up in many homes before decorating the rest of the home for Christmas. But did you know that the tree is not strictly a Christmas symbol? Or at least, at one point, wasn’t.
The Christmas tree has its roots in the pre-Christian peoples of various countries around the world. Egypt, Rome, Ireland, and Norway to name
a few. The winter season was a barren one. Devoid of growth. Cold. And in the northern parts of Europe, full of snow and ice. To many pre-Christian peoples their Sun God was weak and/or sick. The winter nights were long and thought to be wrought full of evil spirits. What else could bring such snow, ice and cold other than evil spirits? The Germanic and Druidic peoples would look to the plants that stayed green all winter long for protection. This ranged from holly, mistletoe and evergreen trees. By celebrating the Winter Solstice, having various evergreen plants brought into the home; it would remind these people of the bounty that spring and summer would bring. Plus, it would help keep the homes smelling nice when it was impossible to air them out in the cold winter months.
Now fast-forward to when Christianity became a predominant religion. Many of the so-called Pagan symbols had their meanings altered so as to convert more people to Christianity. Christmas trees prevailed among the Germanic people and disappeared among the rest of Europe. Along came Martin Luther (of the Protestant Reformation) and according to many sites I read this morning, he saw stars in the night sky and decided to add candles to his Christmas tree at home for his children. In Germany they would hang apples and other edible treats instead of the ornaments that we now know today.
It was only with Queen Victoria with her husband Prince Albert that the Christmas tree became a wide-spread symbol for Christmas. What was popular at court became popular among pretty much…everyone. With the discovery of electricity soon the candles were replaced by electric lights. Edible treats became replaced with ornaments. And there you have it, a Christmas tree as we know it today!