It’s a common sight during Christmas but where did the Christmas tree come from? Whose idea was it to decorate a tree indoors?
Many historians point to the Germans as the people behind the Christmas tree as we know it today. They were the ones who really made it a popular tradition. The Germans were however not the first to show reverence for the tree.
The tree that is used as the Christmas tree is usually an evergreen conifer. Evergreen conifers, with their leaves like needles, are able to maintain their leaves all year round and do not shed them in autumn or winter, no matter how cold it gets and how much snow pours down.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica these trees were a symbol of life and an object of worship in the ancient world among the Romans, the Vikings of northern Europe, the Chinese and even the Egyptians. These peoples had various religious beliefs about the seasons, why trees shed their leaves, why the sun goes away and why winter comes, so trees that could maintain their leaves throughout the year without obeying the seasons got their respect. Sometimes, branches were cut and hung over doors and windows for good luck.
But all of that was many centuries ago and really had nothing to do with Christmas.
It was in Germany that Christmas was paired with the tree. In the 1700s, Christmas trees shining with candles lit inside them had become common in many parts of Germany.
The Germans did not keep this tradition only in their homeland. By the 19th century, they had exported this culture to America. Germans living in the USA who migrated to Canada also took the practice along with them.
But the Germans had a little help. Fortunately for them, in England, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was of German descent. When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert put up a Christmas tree decorated with some goodies in the year 1846, this gesture turned out to be a stamp of approval. The practice caught on in England, the USA, Canada and eventually, the rest of the world.
Today, the Christmas tree is quite popular even in tropical regions like Africa and South America where the four seasons do not apply. Many of the people in these areas of course, have no idea where the Christmas tree came from and what it means, apart from its beauty.