Why do families decorate the Christmas tree?
The tradition is probably inherited from the Canaanites and Egyptians that used to decorate their houses with palm tree leaves and gifts to their gods in the day of the astrological winter. The habit was taken by the Romans that used evergreens instead of palms.
But the story really begins around the 7th century
when a monk from Devonshire came to Germany. Legend says that he used the triangular form of the Christmas tree to symbolize spiritual meanings. In the Europe of the 12th century, on Christmas day, the Christmas tree was installed upside down, hanging down from the ceiling!
It is believed the tree was first decorated at Riga in 1510.
At the beginning of the 16th century, M. Luther decorated the tree with candles to suggest to his children the sparkling of the stars in the sky.
At the middle of the 16th century, in Germany, appear the first markets specialized in selling presents for Christmas, usually food or objects of practical use.
Christmas decorations that were meant to suggest snow
were invented in Germany in 1610. At that time not only they were silvery, but they were also made out of silver. There were invented machines to make thin silver strings for the tree. Silver lasted long but it oxidized very quickly, so they tried to ally it with cooper and zinc, but the product was so heavy that it just broke under the action of his own weight. So silver was used till the middle of the 20th century.
In Great Britain,
the Christmas tree came with with merchants that originated from Germany and settled in England. Decorating the Christmas tree included silver ornaments, candles and pearl-like ribbons all produced in Germany and Eastern Europe at the time. The custom said that every family member or invited person had to have a little tree placed on the table in front of him, with the presents besides it.
In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
- both born in Germany - appear in "Illustrated London News", along with their children, all around the Christmas tree. The popularity of the regal family made this custom to spread fast among the people. The tree became a fashion matter not only in the Britain Islands, but also on the eastern coast of America.
Decorations were of a huge variety.
Mostly home made because they were expensive at the time. Young ladies spent hours cutting paper snowflakes and stars, folding presents envelopes and paper supports for candy.
In America, the Christmas tree did appear around 1747,
in isolated German communities from Pennsylvania, but it mainly spread only along with the development of communications, at the middle of the 19th century.
In 1882 the electric light bowl is invented
and in 1892 it is adapted for the Christmas tree.
And so, we get to our present tree that combines all the elements presented above (and more) in the most ingenious and creative mixtures.