As you tag and buy your Christmas tree this year, do you ever wonder where the tradition 'stems' from?
Although the custom of decorating trees as part of Christmas celebrations can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th centuries, the Christmas tree did not become popular outside of Germany until the second half of the 19th century. Even then, the custom was practiced primarily by nobility only.
Originally, the tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. Candles adorned the trees in the 18th century which were eventually replaced with Christmas lights, once electricity was invented.
Although Christmas trees as we know it are relatively modern, the use of evergreens as a symbol of eternal life predates Christianity. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the custom can be traced back to ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews.
Christmas trees were introduced in the United States by German settlers. Windsor Locks, Connecticut, claims that a Hessian soldier put up one of the first Christmas trees in the United States in 1777. Another early-adopter is claimed by Easton, Pennsylvania, when German settlers reportedly put up a Christmas tree in 1816.
According to the Huffington Post, the tradition of a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center started in 1931, when workers building the center put up the first one.
In Rhode Island, there is an on-going debate if the tree at the State House should be called a holiday tree, as a move to include all regions. Last December, Gov. Lincoln Chafe was lambasted by GOP lawmakers, some talk show hosts, and the Roman Catholic Bishop Tobin for his decision to use the term holiday tree instead of Christmas tree.
What are your Christmas Tree traditions? Do you purchase it fresh? If so, what is the best place in Middletown?
When and how do you decorate the tree? Share your traditions and your holiday spirit with the community!