Anyone living in a country that celebrates Christmas will be familiar with Christmas trees and probably have a family tradition on what kind of tree to use, when it gets set up, and how it is decorated. But, how did the tree become associated with Christmas in the first place? We’ll look a bit into the Christmas tree history here, but first, check out this video about bizarre Christmas traditions that you have probably not heard about. At least, not unless you live in one of these countries. They were all new to me! Yikes!
I must say that I am glad that the Christmas tree has scored so many points over these other traditions… 🙂
Like many other big Christian holidays, Christmas has merged pagan and secular practices into how the birth of Jesus is celebrated. Nobody knows when Jesus was born, but December 25th (in the Gregorian calendar – it’s January 7th in the Julian one, celebrated by Coptic and Orthodox churches) is rooted in several traditions, including pagan celebrations for the Winter Solstice that were already in place. Early Christians often used the same holidays as the pagans did either in protest or maybe to give them something to do during the same time. Learn more here. For Christians, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the “Christ Mass”, but now, all those centuries later, the holiday has been co-opted back by non-Christians. What goes around, comes around, right?
At any rate, Christmas has great importance for our economy and as a time of gathering to celebrate the end of the year, friendships and family. It’s an especially fun time for kids and can get pretty stressful for the rest of us as we try to juggle the extra tasks of decorating, cooking, getting gifts ready, and visiting or hosting guests. For retailers, many of us depend on this time to recover investments made into inventory during the rest of the year and many will get 30%-50% of their yearly sales in the months of November and December. The tree is symbolic of our Christmas traditions as we decorate it with ornaments (see our ornaments feature) and stash our wrapped gifts under it.
Here is a video with a brief history of how the Christmas Tree tradition evolved over time:
This site has a nice overview of how the Christmas tree became important: whychristmas.com
Top Christmas Tree History Highlights:
- The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.
- First Christmas trees showed up around 1000 years ago in Northern Europe.
- The first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations is argued between the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia! Both claim that they had the first trees; Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. Our Wrapture by Inese and Tija Crochet both live in Latvia!!!
- The first first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.
- In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605 an unknown German wrote: “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc.”
- In Victorian times, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees. But, many places now have laws enforced prohibiting the use of candles because so many fires resulted from the practice.
- Tinsel started out as real silver strips!
- Artificial Christmas Trees really started becoming popular in the early 20th century. In the Edwardian period Christmas Trees made from colored ostrich feathers were popular at ‘fashionable’ parties.
Read the rest of that post for more details as it is quite interesting!
The most famous Christmas Tree song
That would be “Oh, Tannenbaum” or “Oh, Christmas Tree”, based on a traditional German folk song, written in 1824. (see Wikipedia)
Here’s a classical rendition by the 3 Tenors:
A Jazzy Version: Pete Daily & His Chicagoans
What goes under that tree?
Christmas trees are truly beautiful! BUT….. I think they are also a wasteful resource that has a short life span for such an expense and cost to the environment, especially when you think about how a tree needs seven years to grow before it heads for market. My town picks them up and hauls them off to be chipped and become compost, but there might be some better eco-options to consider. The obvious one, of course, is a fake tree, which can be ok, although some of the pine imitations do look really tacky.
For years, I had an old branch that I found, already dead. I spray painted it and had it up year round, changing the decorations on it. Or, you can buy a smaller tree that is in a pot and can be planted after Christmas is over. Some homes in my neighborhood decorate the trees in their yards, which looks quite beautiful. There are many do-it-yourself ideas online that use very simple materials and can be fun projects.
What about you? Do you have a tree for Christmas? Any traditions you want to share with us? We’d love to hear about the different ways people celebrate this time of the year, so don’t be shy and share it in the comments!
To finish, here is a version of “Oh, Christmas Tree” that is truly silly:
Our Christmas Market Category:
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Accessories, Aprons, Fair Trade, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Textiles, Weaving, Red, Stripes, Cotton, Woven, Americas, GuatemalaStriped Handwoven Bistro Apron with Pocket Click on the Visit our Website button to see what we have in stock.$34.00 Shop: MayaMamWeavers
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Vintage, Woodwork, Elements, Mission Style, Rustic, Spirituality, White, Materials, Wood, Method, Carved, Provenance, Americas, MexicoClick on the Shop on Etsy button to visit my shop there.$38.00 Shop: Steel Goat Studio
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Paperweights, Table Top, Niche, Glass, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Elements, Red, Materials, Glass-Material, Method, Blown, Provenance, Americas, USAClick on the Shop on Etsy button to visit my shop there. You will see all of my available stock.$39.95 Shop: ElliottGlassArt
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Wall Art, Art Quilts, Niche, Art Quilts Niche, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Textiles, Elements, Blue, Nature, Materials, Cotton, Silk, Method, Quilted, Sewn, Provenance, Americas, USAThese quilts are examples of the 3-panel art quilts Rose Hughes has available for sale. Clicking on the shop button will take you to her website where you can see all of the work available.$2,200.00
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Pillows, Niche, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Textiles, Upcycled, Nature, Red, Shabby Chic, Fiber, Hooked, Provenance, USADelightful Hand Hooked Snowflake Pillows tease with the promise of the winter to come.$58.00 Shop: Jwrobel
Serving Platter – Ceramic Fern Leaf Plate – Pottery Serving Platter – Celedon Green – Bread Tray – Sushi Tray – 832All Products, Home and Office, Table Top, Plates, Platters, Niche, For Men, Ceramics, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Elements, Brown, Green, Nature, Materials, Clay, Stoneware, Method, Slab Built, Provenance, Americas, USABread or Appetizers would be perfect on this handmade ceramic fern leaf tray. Botanic2Ceramic: Mission Style and Nature Inspired Pottery Clicking on the Shop on Etsy button will take you to my Etsy shop. Once there, explore everything I have in stock.$48.00 Shop: Botanic2Ceramic
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, Kids, Decorative, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Ornaments, Easter, Zen, Cotton, Wool, Embroidered, Wrapped, Provenance, Americas, USA
Woven Squares Temari BallDusty green temari ball embroidered with interwoven squares in shades of green, blue, and lavender Temari balls and fine handknits by India Tresselt. www.yarndancevt.com This listing on Artizan Made links over to my shop on Etsy. You will be able to see what I have in stock there.
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, For Men, Kids, Decorative, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Ornaments, Easter, Purple, Zen, Cotton, Wool, Embroidered, USA
Bindi Temari BallEmbroidered lavender temari ball with mandalas. Temari balls and fine handknits by India Tresselt. This listing on Artizan Made links over to my shop on Etsy. You will be able to see what I have in stock there. More temari are also available on my website.
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Sculpture, Niche, For Men, Christmas, Textiles, Animals, Nature, Make It, Method, Asia, IsraelThe needle felted dog and animal sculptures shown here are examples of the animals I have made in the past. You can see what is available for purchase in my Etsy or Artizan shops, LauraLeeBurch. I've also made other wild animals, puppets and people, usually portrayed with a good dose of humor and a love for life. Most of my sculptures range between $155-$350 in price, depending on the size and details. A final price will be determined after a discussion determining the size and details that you'd like your customized item to be. These sculptures are collectible items, they are one of a kind pieces that are wonderful for dog lovers or as a memento of a beloved pet. You can request a made to order needle felted sculpture of a pet, e-mail me for details: email@example.com. You can read more about Bully breed dogs on my blog at:http.www.lauraleeburch I love the medium of wool for needle felted sculpture; you can achieve very fine details by needle felting and you can mix the wool with embroidery, sewing, beading etc. which makes it very visually interesting. Each animal is handmade; each piece takes 10-15 hours minimally to create; the sculptures are needle felted from wool, and may have glass eyes, metal collars and tag and a polymer clay noses. I adore animals and I hope to educate and bring attention to particular animal causes (animal rescue and fundraising). e-mail me with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also custom order needle felted puppets and dolls; email me for more details: email@example.com. *Needle felting is meshing raw wool together with a specially barbed needle by repeatedly stabbing the wool with the needle. The wool binds together to create very strong forms. These sculptures are not toys. *To protect and keep your needle felted sculpture looking its best I recommend placing the sculpture under a glass or plexiglass covering. A covering will protect the wool from dust and prevent admirers from touching the sculpture which will eventually make the wool become slightly fuzzy. I am an American textile Artist living in the Middle East. I’m from Greenfield, Indiana and I live in Jaffa, Israel; My family and I, our four cats, two turtles, and our Bull Terrier Louie live a multi-cultural life. Louie inspires many of my dog sculptures and my concern for animal welfare: Very bored Louie. Very bored Louie. I started sewing costumes and making toys for my girls when they were little; after we moved to Israel I started a business and wrote two books based on making beautiful things for children. Today my artistic focus has changed to making art for adults who art in touch with their inner child! I’ve always loved to take photographs, especially when I travel; many of my captured moments are priceless to me! You can buy my patterns or request custom needle felted pieces on my Etsy site; you can purchase my artwork or request a custom needle felted sculpture here on Artizan Made. I will be setting up shop here soon. Laura Lee Burch felting. Laura Lee Burch felting. Visit my website: www.lauraleeburch.com to see my latest needle felted creations and see what’s going on in my artistic world! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read an interview about my work from Artzy Shark on my blog: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/2016/07/arts-business-institute-artist-profile-laura-burch/ and you can read my blog post about Bully breed dogs: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/2015/10/a-dogs-life-bull-terriers-and-pit-bulls-in-2015/.$250.00 Shop: Laura Lee Burch
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Table Top, Niche, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Weddings, Woodwork, Elements, Grey, Spirituality, Yellow, Materials, Wood, Method, Glued, Painted, Provenance, Americas, USAClick on the Shop on Etsy button to visit my shop there.$42.00 Shop: Steel Goat Studio
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, Kids, Decorative, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Ornaments, Easter, Zen, Cotton, Wool, Embroidered, Provenance, Americas, USA
Iznik Temari BallDeep ivory ball embroidered in interlocking mandalas in shades of blue Temari balls and fine handknits by India Tresselt. www.yarndancevt.com This listing on Artizan Made links over to my shop on Etsy. You will be able to see what I have in stock there.
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, Kids, Decorative, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Ornaments, Easter, Red, Zen, Cotton, Wool, Embroidered, Provenance, Americas, USA
Mesa Temari BallDeep rust temari ball embroidered with warm shades of brown, tan, and orange Temari balls and fine handknits by India Tresselt. www.yarndancevt.com This listing on Artizan Made links over to my shop on Etsy. You will be able to see what I have in stock there.
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Niche, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Vintage, Woodwork, Elements, Brown, Rustic, Spirituality, Materials, Wood, Method, Carved, Provenance, AmericasClick on the Shop on Etsy button to visit my shop there.$38.00 Shop: Steel Goat Studio
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Accessories, Scarves, Niche, For Women, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Elements, Dots, Green, Silk, Dyed, Provenance, Americas, USADyed with osage and indigo, this silk organza scarf has cotton balls woven into the weft to create a polka dot pattern. Very soft, comfortable, and washable. Dimensions: 66" Long, 18" Wide Click on the Visit button to go to my Jane Porter Fashion Shop.$45.00 Shop: Jane Porter Fashion
Quickview All Products, Home and Office, Wall Art, Art Quilts, Art Quilts Niche, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Red, Cotton, Quilted, USAContemporary Art Quilt for the Wall. Improvisationally designed and stitched on my home sewing machine with variegated thread.$295.00 Shop: CindyGrisdelaArtQuilts
Quickview All Products, To Wear, Accessories, Scarves, Shawls, Wraps, Niche, For Women, Felt, Fair Trade, Folk Art, Holiday Themes, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Textiles, Tribal Art, Elements, Black, Boho, Floral, Nature, Red, Materials, Fiber, Silk, Wool, Method, Dyed, Felted, Woven, Provenance, AsiaThis diaphanous hand-made silk scarf, accented with dramatic hand-felted floral patterns, comes direct to the US from the loving hands of Seven Sisters of Kyrgyzstan. Seven Sisters is a family business carrying on a long-standing tradition of working with silk and merino wool to create gorgeous clothing and accessories that will make you stand out from the crowd. Clicking on the "Visit Shop" button will take you to the HoonArts Fair Trade shop where you can purchase this item and see what other one-of-a-kind and small artist's edition treasures are currently in stock.$115.00 Shop: HoonArts Fair Trade