Before the arrival of the ever-convenient pre-lit Christmas tree, there were many special and creative predecessors which upheld important beliefs and symbolism. Let’s explore the history of early options before the artificial Christmas tree.
It is commonly believed that the Christmas tree (or Tannenbaum) originated in Germany during the Renaissance. Others believe that the first Christmas tree came from Latvia in the 1500s. This tradition gained significant popularity in the second half of the 19th century. But if you go back even further, you’ll find that evergreens have been associated with symbolic use.
There are theories that the Christmas tree derives from Pagan roots when homes in Scandinavia and Germany would bring live evergreens into their homes, usually associated with winter solstice practices. The ancient Celts saw the evergreen tree as a symbol of everlasting life.
If wood was scarce, instead of cutting down a tree, some families would build an artificial Christmas tree by making a pyramid of old wood evergreen brush and candles. Like modern artificial Christmas trees, this was probably much more convenient!
Initially, trees were decorated with colorful paper, roses, tinsel and the like, until the 18th century when candles were used. Of course, these were eventually replaced with modern day lights.
Ancient Egyptians associated the winter-time with the illness of the sun god named Ra. At the solstice, when days became longer, the Egyptians celebrated with filling their homes with green palm rushes, as a symbol of life and health.
Ancient Romans decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs during the solstice, knowing spring new life would be coming soon.
German settlers brought Christmas trees to America as early as 1747. Initially seen as a Pagan symbol, most Americans did not accept the tree until the mid-1800s. The popularity is associated with Queen Victoria, who embraced the Christmas tree.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is one of the most symbolic Christmas trees around and dates back to the Great Depression era. Millions of people unite to witness the beautiful lighting of this seasonal symbol each year.
No matter where the tradition came from, it is one that is thoroughly enjoyed by people around the world each year who revel in the magical glow of a Christmas tree.
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