Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Christmas Tree

A tree is part of many people's holiday season. Cutting your own tree, selecting one at the local lot, or bringing in a living tree are all part of modern family traditions. To many, the beginning of the holiday season is decorating a tree. The aroma, beauty, and special adventure of having a tree is sensed by all in the home. Christmas trees have not always been associated with the winter holidays across the world. The roots (no pun intended) of tree use can be traced back before the birth of Jesus Christ to early Egyptians who would bring palms indoor as symbols of eternal life. Ancient Jewish religious feasts used decorations made of tree boughs. In the Western world, most experts consider our use of trees during the winter holidays as derived from Rome. The Romans exchanged tree boughs with friends for luck. The Roman winter festival was celebrated by decorating the house with tree boughs and greenery. Trees were paraded around with candles and trinkets attached to the branches.
Many folk legends have grown around the Christmas tree. Christ's blessing and gift to mankind in the form of a decorated tree remains the central theme of most. Across Europe, people used tree-based folk tales to teach children about the celebration of Christ's birth. The evergreen tree's symbolism of eternal life was strong. Martin Luther may have begun the Christmas tree tradition in Germany around 1500 AD. It was said that he was walking on a bright snow-covered, star-lit night pondering the birth of Christ. He was enthralled by the evergreen trees, the stars and the landscape. He took a tree inside and put candles on it to try and represent the majesty he felt about Christ's birth.
By the early 1600's many German towns were celebrating Christmas with elaborately decorated trees. Decorations first used were paper flowers, fruits, nuts, gold foil, cakes, small gifts, and candies. German mercenaries used by the British in the Revolutionary War were responsible for bringing the Christmas tree tradition to the United States.  In the 1840's the use of Christmas trees across the Christian world exploded. From the royal family in England to the elite of America, Christmas trees were fashionable. In 1851 the first retail tree lot was set-up on a sidewalk in New York City and sold-out quickly. At the same time, some church congregations had concerns about bringing trees into their religious traditions. An Ohio paster set-up a tree in church in 1851 and was told by congregation members that it was a pagan symbol with no place in Christianity. Despite these concerns, the pastor continued with the Christmas tree tradition. This tradition became ever more popular.
The White House led the way to trees for the holidays. The first American President to show-off his White House tree was Franklin Pierce. Benjamin Harrison declared his White House tree to be part of an old-fashioned American tradition in 1889. By the 1880's the Christmas tree market was large. In the following decades large numbers of wild trees were harvested from the native forests. Theodore Roosevelt decided for the sake of forest conservation that the White House would not have a tree. His two sons snuck a small tree into their room and were caught, to the embarrassment of their father.



    Did a celebration around a Christmas tree on a bitter cold Christmas Eve at Trenton, New Jersey, turn the tide for Colonial forces in 1776? According to legend, Hessian mercenaries were so reminded of home by a candlelit evergreen tree that they abandoned their guardposts to eat, drink and be merry. Washington attacked that night and defeated them.

    The Christmas tree has gone through a long process of development rich in many legends, says David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture, with the Springfield Extension Center.

    Some historians trace the lighted Christmas tree to Martin Luther. He attached lighted candles to a small evergreen tree, trying to simulate the reflections of the starlit heaven -- the heaven that looked down over Bethlehem on the first Christmas Eve.

    Until about 1700, the use of Christmas trees appears to have been confined to the Rhine River District. From 1700 on, when lights were accepted as part of the decorations, the Christmas tree was well on its way to becoming a tradition in Germany. Then the tradition crossed the Atlantic with the Hessian soldiers.

    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.

    To the Druids, sprigs of evergreen holly in the house meant eternal life; while to the Norsemen, they symbolized the revival of the sun god Balder. To those inclined toward superstition, branches of evergreens placed over the door kept out witches, ghosts, evil spirits and the like.

    This use does not mean that our Christmas tree custom evolved solely from paganism, any more than did some of the present-day use of sighed in various religious rituals.

    Trees and branches can be made purposeful as well as symbolic. The Christmas tree is a symbol of a living Christmas spirit and brings into our lives a pleasant aroma of the forest. The fact that balsam fir twigs, more than any other evergreen twigs, resemble crosses may have had much to do with the early popularity of balsam fir used as Christmas trees.

  2. Did you know that Christmas trees are edible!

    Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition. And what a great way to recycle your tree! ; )

    And some more interesting facts about Christmas trees:

    - The Canadian province of Nova Scotia leads the world in exporting lobster, wild blueberries, and Christmas trees.

    - The origin of the Christmas tree began in Germany in the sixteenth century. Previously some people had decorated fir trees that were outside of their house, but up until then had not been brought inside the house and decorated.

    - Queen Victoria's husband Albert, who came from Germany, saw the trees and brought the tradition home to England.

    - The first American Christmas tree was introduced by a German family who emigrated and settled in Pennsylvania. The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.

    - The first decorations were mostly apples and nuts.

    - Christmas trees take an average of 7-10 years to mature.

    - For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place. Each hectare provides the daily oxygen requirements of 45 people.

    - Since 1947, the Christmas tree displayed in Trafalgar square in London has been an annual gift to the UK from Norway.
    The Norwegian spruce tree is given as a token of appreciation of British friendship during World War II from the Norwegian people.

    - It is considered bad luck to put up your Christmas tree before the 1st of December.

    - January the 6th is the traditional end of the Christmas holiday and is the date on which w the Christmas tree should be taken down.
    Taking down the tree any earlier is thought to bring bad luck for the rest of the new year.

    1. :D Never eat spruce and needles, pine nuts or pine cones are edible indeed)

      some more interesting facts, which you didn't mention in your list:

      - Americans buy about 30 million to 35 million real Christmas trees every year.
      - The first Christmas tree lights were mass produced in 1890.
      - The top-selling Christmas tree types are balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.
      - There are 500,000 acres in the United States devoted to growing Christmas trees.

  3. Tips on Decorating Your Christmas Tree

    Keep Your Tree Fresh and Green

    Cut the stump of the tree with a fresh cut and set it in water immediately. A fresh-cut tree will absorb several quarts of water right from the start. So it's important to check and refill the water level several times a day for the first week. You can cut down on frequency later. Be sure to place you Christmas tree in a stand that has a large water reservoir and keep it filled.

    Christmas Tree Preservative

    You can caring for Christmas trees.

    Putting Lights and Decorations on the Tree

    When decorating your Christmas tree, put lights on first, then garlands, then the ornaments.

    Work From the Inside Out

    Start arranging Christmas tree lights on the branches near the base of the tree. Weave strings of lights along the branches "inside," then move to the outer edges of the branches.

    Placement of Ornaments

    Don't hang all your ornament on the tips of the branches. Place ornaments and other decorations 'inside' your tree to add depth and interest.

    Basic Ornaments for Fill

    Start by arranging the "filler ornaments" evenly spaced around the tree. This would include basic solid color balls that are easily found at discount stores in a wide range of colors to coordinate and enhance your decorating scheme. You'll need about 20 "filler ornaments" for every 2 feet of Christmas tree.

    Special Themed, Collectible Ornaments

    Mix one-of-a-kind special ornaments between the basic ornaments. Plan to use at least 10 special themed ornaments for every 2 feet of tree. As your collection grows, put the special ornaments closer together.


    The sete devoted to How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

  5. Who brought the Christmas tree tradition to the United States?

    The use of evergreen trees in connection with celebrating the Christ mass at the winter solstice is believed to have originated in Germany in the 1500's. There were instances of many families, whether rich or poor, celebrating the holiday with fanciful decorations on fir trees. There are even references to the selling of Christmas trees in the villages were gathered from the forests. Over the next couple of centuries, the tradition of the Christmas tree was established from London to Lisbon, and from Paris to St. Petersburg. In the late 1700's, during the American Revolution, Hessian mercenaries introduced the custom to this country. The Germans are also given credit for introducing the Christmas tree in Canada, where in 1781 a German immigrant named Baron von Riedesel put up the first Christmas tree (a balsam fir) in Sorel, Quebec. Equally famous is Charles Minnegerode, another German immigrant, who is fondly remembered for having introduced the custom in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842. The first documented instance of the retailing of Christmas trees in America occured in 1851, when a Pennsylvanian by the name of Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with trees down from the Catskill Mountains to the city of New York.