A tradition that my family participates in would be one that is often taken for granted. Putting up the Christmas tree or in Irish, crann Nollag, was always something both sides of my family is willing to do for the holiday. Mostly because it preserves many years with special school-made ornaments and adds to the spirit of the house. Well, because I am fascinated with history, I would like to share with you the history of the Christmas tree.
According to the Christmas Tree Farm Network (Please note they no longer sell trees), the legend of Christmas trees started in Germany.
The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost 1,000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.
Now, when I was growing up we had a fake Christmas tree and now we have a real one. Since my progression of my spirituality, I am now more apt to saying people should consider a real tree. Because they have a pretty smell and helps tree farm businesses stay alive. But of course the needles drop and might poke your foot and stick to your socks. So do be careful, but whether you like real trees or fake ones, remember that this tradition is to commemorate the Yuletide season.
David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture Springfield Extension Center writes that
Some people trace the origin of the Christmas tree to an earlier period. Even before the Christian era, trees and boughs were used for ceremonials. Egyptians, in celebrating the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — brought green date palms into their homes as a symbol of “life triumphant over death”. When the Romans observed the feast of saturn, part of the ceremony was the raising of an evergreen bough. The early Scandinavians were said to have paid homage to the fir tree.
It is remarkable all these cultures adopted a form of Christmas tree in their lives during this season. History shows us that we are one. Robson continues to include, “The Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives a pleasant aroma of the forest.”
Certainly, I enjoy aromatherapy and so smelling the evergreen in the house warms my belly for the holiday season, but some might not like the hassle of getting and putting up the tree, but what a joy nonetheless because we can have scented candles and fake trees. Very convenient. But, my personal preference lies with a real tree to honor ancient civilizations and nature itself. Wait! What about decorating the tree for the holiday? I’d imagine this is the next question, and I do have an answer.
The History Channel claims that
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.
My favorite Christmas tree decoration are the M&M Christmas lights that my family would place around the tree. They are so cute and often jog my memory of the toys I got in previous years like the collectible Hess trucks, Harry Potter stationary kit, and cute stocking stuffers. I am happy to see that my mom has not thrown out those, well I don’t think she has at least. They make me feel all happy.
Christmas trees are sure enough to be a regular sight for the season and now you know a little bit more about them and me. So I encourage you to pass the origins of the Christmas tree onto your young ones and remember throughout the year the wonders of Yule and all it brings. Because I know that this year has been tough with all the news and the economy, so make the best of the season by reconnecting with the simple things.