Apart from increasing our ‘Christmas cheer’, many of us actually don’t know where the tradition of putting up Christmas trees comes from. At least we didn’t! That’s why we searched the internet to find out how this ancient Christmas custom started.
How it all got started
One version of how the Christmas tree gained its popularity is due to the Christians. They believe that an evergreen tree symbolises eternal life by remembering Christ’s birth, death and resurrection. However, the true origin of putting up Christmas trees is not completely clear.
Evergreen plants and trees actually also had a special meaning long before the advent of Christianity. People used to hang evergreen boughs (pine, spruce or fir) over their doors and windows during winter. They believed that it would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness.
Nowadays, we associate putting up and decorating an evergreen tree with Christmas for lots of reasons. It may relate to the birth of Christ (Christians) or it is simply used to increase cosiness during the many dark days. The reason why we traditionally use fir trees is because they are evergreen. Which means that even during the winter, they remain bright green.
Tinsel and baubles
Now that it’s clear why we started putting up Christmas trees, we move on to festive decorations. Nowadays, tinsel and baubles are very popular Christmas tree decorations. People started using tinsel around the 1600s to reflect the flickering of candle flames. Baubles, on the other hand, originate from a Roman tradition. The tradition of hanging fruit from trees. Around 1800, inventor Hans Greiner produced glass ornaments in the shape of fruits and nuts. And so it all started.
Fun facts about Christmas trees
While unravelling the custom of putting up a Christmas tree, we came across a few facts that we didn’t know about. Did you know that…
- The Christmas tree tradition as we now know it started in Germany?
- The first Christmas trees came to Britain around 1830?
- The trees used to hang upside down from the ceiling?
- Cherry or Hawthorn plants were sometimes used as Christmas trees?
- The first Christmas trees in Germany were decorated with edible things?
- In other countries, different trees serve as Christmas trees?
In New Zealand, they sometimes decorate a tree called ‘Pohutakawa’ and in India, they sometimes use Banana or Mango trees.