Before Christianity was known people were decorating their houses with greenery around the winter solstice which usually fall around December 21-22 or so. The solstice was a celebrated belief that the sun god ( different cultures had different names for such) who falls ill in the fall was beginning to recover. The hanging of evergreen boughs was a sign that again the days would get longer and warmer and again plants would turn green and full of life. Thus praise and thankfulness to the sun god, god of agriculture ect.
In the 16th century Germans began bringing evergreen trees as we know Christmas trees today. Martin Luther was believed to be the first noted person to add candles to the tree. It is said he was inspired by the stars one night as he was walking through the trees and wanted to share the experience with his family.
The first record of a tree being on display in America was in the 1830’s in a German settlement in Pennsylvania. Even though Christmas trees were common in the traditions of Christians in Germany they were still seen as a pagan symbol in America through the 1840’s. The German settlements had Christmas trees earlier but they were not a public display. Some Americans were working so had to rid all pagan aspects that any observation of the Christmas holiday aside from a church service was penalized. This by a law passed in Massachusetts in 1659, included any signs of joy, decorations carols ect.
It wasn’t until the 1840’s when Queen Victoria and German Prince Albert were pictured with their family gathered around a Christmas tree that the tree was here to stay.
The trees were mainly decorated with candles and homemade ornaments. Most Germans still decorated their trees with the more traditional marzipan cookies, nuts, apples and strings of dyed popcorn. With the advent of electricity came tree lights allowing the trees to be lighted for days on end and the Christmas trees in town squares began. From there the tree tradition exploded and so did the size.
In Europe Christmas trees averaged about 4 feet, in America the stood floor to ceiling (we’ve “super sizing” everything since the beginning). The outdoor trees on display continue to tower above.
I heard both sides of the real or fake tree argument.
One thought is real trees are the tradition and they are “green” as there are always more growing. The wonderful smell of pine and homemade cookies; a warm comforting Christmas feeling.
The other thought is why cut a tree for one month. The cost of the tree, if you don’t have the luxury of having one on your property to cut each year and most don’t. Then there’s the safety aspect. Most house fires over Christmas can be linked to overloading the electrical outlets, Aunt Martha leaving a burner on in the kitchen, then setting something other than a pot on it and dry Christmas trees. Some most people know the tree though now dead still draws water to keep its needles longer. A fireplace that is used often will dry the air in no time and the tree as well. It sometimes slips peoples minds to keep the tree watered with so many other things going on.
Then there’s holiday clean up:
put the tree in a box in the Christmas closet (the hard to get to spot under the stairs)
haul the dry tree through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the entry way and finally to the yard, where by this time there are no needles left on the tree they are scattered like flower petals down a wedding isle through your house, where it will sit until spring when you decide where your going to dump it. Maybe you live in town where the poor garbage man has to deal with all the Christmas leftovers.
By the pro’s and con’s list the fake tree seems to win. I would prefer a real tree anyway. I like the smell of pine in the living room and the warmth the tree seems to bring. Being from Minnesota I have always taken trees for granted. Having lived in North Dakota for 10 years one would think I would be hugging the trees now that I’m back. I’m still not. I would have no problem clearing a couple few (more than 6 if you get it).
It took a few years to get used to the wide open spaces but when I did I absolutely loved it! (The east side of ND is still flat and boring, sorry) The middle and west is beautiful! The sunrises and sunsets are amazing. I still favor Montana sky above all else but I found lots of beauty in the Dakota’s.
One might also think the my husband being from the wide open wouldn’t mind clearing a few trees around the farm. (especially since we have a nice crop of Christmas trees around part of our hay field, with them gone I could get a few more bails out of it) Wrong again! He likes the trees each and every one!
I’m too cheap to buy a real tree every year, the Mister like the trees where they are on our land and our wood stove in the living room burns all day long. We have a fake tree. Hiding pine scented car air freshener trees in it is not the same, so don’t bother with those.
Never the less the tree is up, decorated and glowing. The room is warm with the stove and well I didn’t do any Christmas baking this year, selfishly because I can’t eat it. But the tea smells good too ( not like cookies but hopefully next year).
So what are your thoughts about the tree debate?