The Christmas tree is the most recognized symbol of the Christmas holiday, and putting it up and decorating it each year is a time honored family tradition.
Traditions are a very large part of what makes the Christmas holiday so meaningful.
Without traditional Christmas songs, annual television specials, and Christmas tree decorations, Christmas just would not be the same.
The tradition of Christmas trees is not a new one — it dates way back to ancient times and even obscure pagan rituals.
It has played a role in holiday celebrations for hundreds of years, and it will continue to do the same in times to come.
The Fabulous Fir Tree
Though the ancient peoples would not have understood or predicted the Christmas tree custom, they did play a part in establishing it. Everyone, from the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Druids, revered the evergreen tree in one way or another. In some cultures, evergreen trees were used to celebrate the winter solstice.
One ancient myth says that St. Boniface, the German saint who converted the people to Christianity, encountered pagans worshipping an oak tree. The saint cut down the oak tree out of anger and in its place, a fir tree sprouted up. To St. Boniface, this was a sign.
The Modern Movement
The use of the fir tree might have come from ancient traditions, but it was not until more recently that a Christmas tree was actually displayed indoors. One popular myth is that Martin Luther was the first to decorate a Christmas tree. When walking through snow covered woods on Christmas Eve, Martin Luther was struck by the beauty of the fir trees. He brought a small one indoors and shared the splendor with his children. Together, they decorated it with lights.
The tradition migrated to the United States most likely during the American Revolution, but it was not widely practiced (and even banned in some areas) until the 1800s. Christmas trees did not become universal until the 1920s.
In the early history of the Christmas tree tradition, participants would go into the woods and cut down their own trees. However, by the 1800s people had begun taking advantage of the tree market by cutting down trees and selling them for profit. Christmas tree farms emerged during the Great Depression. Some people preferred, and still prefer, artificial Christmas trees over the real ones.
Old Traditions and New Traditions
The Christmas tree tradition might be old, but not quite as old as one might think, it has only grown in popularity over the past two hundred years. Whatever might come in the future of Christmas, you can be assured that the Christmas tree will continue to be a steady source of memories, comfort and tradition.