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History of the Christmas Tree, What are your Traditions?

A look at the history and traditions of the Christmas tree


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.

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!

John M November 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Our Gov chafee thinks it is a Holiday Tree;Remember that when election time comes around;Good Bye chafee.
Good Year November 30, 2012 at 01:47 PM
The author points out that Chafee was lambasted by GOP lawmakers for his decision to use the term "holiday tree." I know for a fact that many from the democrat party also disagreed with this assault on tradition and religion.
John M November 30, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Don't try to take away people's traditions,it will not work.Gov Chafee will find out when he is looking for a new job come next election,Chafee speak for yourself,not for the other people.The only reason he is Gov is because of his name,you Mr.Chafee call it a holiday tree,in my home it is a Christmas tree and always will be.
Good Year November 30, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Don't underestimate the typical RI voter. If you look at what just happened in the last election (Cicilline) it's possible that this clown could get re-elected.
John M November 30, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I know sometimes wonder where their heads are;
Janine B December 02, 2012 at 12:08 PM
So you all ignore the main point of this article just to make it political, that takes more out of the meaning of Christmas Tree than what somebody calls it-shame... For many reasons I use an artificial tree and put it up as close to the 1st of December as possible. It was always tradition to decorate it with my mom, and now it is tradition to decorate it with my daughters. Each year I get an ornament for each of my kids to reflect what their interests were that year, and a family ornament. I love seeing all the ornaments from over the years! Merry Christmas!

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