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Christmas Tree

image of Merry Christmas graphicThe specific origin of the Christmas tree is lost in the dim and distant past. It may have started when pre-Christian rituals involving evergreen boughs were merged with Christian celebrations and beliefs.

It seems to be generally recognized that the people who lived in what is now Germany were the first to develop the tradition of the Christmas tree. The custom of a decorated Christmas tree appears to have started in Britain in the early middle nineteenth century. Albert, the Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, brought the tradition from his homeland of Saxe Coburg (which is now part of Germany). The example set by royalty became a general fashion.

image of a Spruce Tree GraphicWith this background it is not surprising that the tree had become established by 1860. So established, in fact, that a "German tree" was placed at the White House by President Franklin Pierce in 1856. Trees of the period were decorated with various edibles and home-crafted ornaments, but by 1860 glass trinkets made in Germany were becoming available to adorn the branches. Most, however, were decorated with fruits, strands, and candles. Although, some people were more creative, like the German immigrant in 1847 who had the local blacksmith pound out a metal star for his spruce, where it was placed alongside paper decoration.