Although the Christmas tree is easily recognized today as the centerpiece of most Christmas decorating, you may wonder who actually thought up the idea of putting a decorated evergreen tree inside the home as part of holiday celebrating. To get to the root of this longstanding Christmas tradition, you have to go way back into history.
Before the very first Christmas was even celebrated, ancient pagan people revered the evergreen. Because these plants were able to retain their green color even throughout the harsh winter, it was thought that they must have some kind of special power and thus the evergreen held great significance. Many people in those days long ago brought evergreen boughs and branches into their homes as a protective decoration. Evergreens were also hung over doors as it was thought that doing this would keep out evil forces and even illnesses.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, the use of evergreens as decoration was assimilated into new Christian customs. Medieval Germans brought entire evergreen trees into their homes and decorated them with apples, calling them Paradise Trees. These trees were used to teach the story of the Garden of Eden and were left up in homes throughout the holiday season. As time went on, in addition to decorating these trees with apples, nuts were added in addition to other sweets that would ornament their Paradise Trees.
When German immigrants came to America they brought with them their old tradition of Christmas Trees but at this time, these trees were looked upon as a foreign custom and were still very far from being considered mainstream. In 1848, Queen Victoria encouraged her German husband to decorate a tree for the holidays as he had traditionally done when he was a boy. This unique and very publicized Christmas tree was decorated with candles, sweets, ornaments and an angel and then was lavishly featured in a publication called Illustrated London News. The popularity of Christmas trees subsequently soared and having a Christmas tree in one’s home for the holidays became extremely fashionable. By 1870, German artisans were busily making special handcrafted glass ornaments made specifically to hang on Christmas trees and in 1890 Edward Johnson working under the watchful eye of Thomas Edison, created the first string of electric Christmas lights to hang on a Christmas tree. By 1900, these Christmas lights were being used to light the Christmas trees of department stores and one of every five homes had their very own Christmas tree!
From simple apples and nuts to elaborate lights and decorations, decorating the Christmas tree has evolved quite a bit over the years. Our modern Christmas trees can now revolve, blink, twinkle and even have Christmas trains that run through them. No matter how you decorate your Christmas tree, the iconic tradition of a holiday evergreen tree will continue to be the focal point of holiday decorating.
Be sure to check out our unique selection of Christmas decorations that will add plenty of Christmas magic to decking your halls this holiday season!