News Dec 9th 2016

The History Of The Christmas Tree Tradition

Christmas tree

A fully decorated Christmas tree can be traced back in history as far as the traditions of the ancient Romans, who during their winter festivities used to adorn trees with small pieces of metal in a ceremony that honoured Saturnus, the god of agriculture.

The Paradise tree, an evergreen, was traditionally used and decorated with apples as an iconic symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve that was annually held on December 24th during the middle ages across Europe.

In Alsace, at the time an area of Germany, in 1531, Christmas trees were sold. Today it is a part of modern France, but the tradition of selling trees at local markets to be taken home and decorated is still thriving. In fact, the Ammerschweier in Alsace, there was a mandate posted which stated that no person “shall for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight show lengths”.

According to 16th century folklore, Martin Luther was credited as being the first man to decorate a tree indoors. The story goes that following a walk through a forest that had bright stars overhead; Luther tried to recreate the visions by placing candles on and around a tree inside his home. However, some historians argue that evidence of a lighted tree did not arise until a century after Luther's death.

The old record we have of a fully decorated Christmas tree comes from a diary entry found in Strasburg, France dated from 1605. The tree is described as being decorated with apples, candied sweets and paper roses.

During the 17th and 18th centuries in Germany and Austria, the tops of evergreen trees were cut and hung facing downwards in the corner of a living rooms. Again, these were decorated with apples, along with strips of red paper and nuts.

The very first record of a Christmas tree in America was as a gift for the children of a German Moravian Church in Pennsylvania in 1747. Though actual trees were not decorated in this instance, instead wooden pyramids were covered in green branches to replicate the look, and embellished with candles.

Modern Christmas trees as we know them were introduce to the United States by Hessian troops during the War of Independence. Early accounts exist of a American foot soldiers at Fort Dearborn setting up a tree in 1804. The majority of other accounts revolve around the population of German settlers in Pennsylvania.

In 1834, Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, was credited as being the first British royal to bring a Christmas tree inside Windsor Castle. Although there are conflicting reports that it was in fact Victoria's grandmother, Queen Charlotte how was first responsible, decorating a Christmas tree as early as 1800.

Later on, a man named Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of tree decorating to the people of Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842, and by 1850, the modern Christmas tree had become to popular in the eastern states that it was no longer regarded as a quaint foreign tradition.

The very first retail spot for Christmas tree purchasing was set up in New York in 1851 by a man named Mark Carr.

From the middle age Germany to the White House, Franklin Pierce was the first US president to introduce a Christmas tree in to the White House in 1856, a gift for a group of Washing Sunday School children how were visiting during the Christmas period.

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