A History of Festivities: The Story Behind Christmas Trees

If you’re already thinking about how you would like to decorate your home for the holidays, you probably have a very clear image in your mind of the perfect Christmas tree for you. Holiday decorations are wonderful to customize to your household decor and to your family, but when it comes to a Christmas tree, you’re likely to pick some sort of evergreen tree decorated with tinsel, lights, and brightly colored baubles- but do you know where those traditions come from?

christmas tree history

The Origin of the Christmas Tree

The modern Christmas tree is an evergreen conifer, likely a spruce, pine, or fir tree. This dates back to medieval Germany where Protestants would bring the trees into their homes. The earliest decorations were paper roses, fruit such as apples, wafers baked into festive shapes, and tinsel. Early modern trees were lit up with candles to illuminate the night. This might be inspired by Scandinavian pre-Christian traditions where it was popular to decorate evergreen trees around the winter solstice. It’s also possible to trace some customs back to the Roman celebration of Saturnalia.

Christmas Trees Today

More modern trees replaced elements of early Christmas trees. Fruits such as apples and oranges were replaced with shining red ball ornaments and candles were replaced with electric lights to reduce the risk of fire. Often modern ornaments are made of plaster in various decorative shapes instead of baked wafers cut into stars and other geometric designs. The sweets on early trees were meant as decoration but also to be enjoyed by children — similar to modern families decorating with candy canes. Christmas trees became popular in England in the Victorian era. Queen Victoria brought the tradition to England after marrying the German-born Prince Albert. This also lead to the spread of Christmas trees in the United States.

Artificial aluminum trees grew popular in the United States during the late 1950s through the 1960s. These shiny silver trees were somewhat extravagant, sometimes featuring lighting setups to shine different colors of light on the tree to give it different looks. These trees also faced a backlash when the popular cartoon A Charlie Brown Christmas came out which satirized the aluminum trees. This also lead to a love of “sad” real trees that might need a little more love.

Cheerful Spirit offers beautiful Christmas trees in bottles as centerpieces and table decor to bring new traditions into your home. You can find trees that resemble traditional German trees from days of yore and shiny retro aluminum trees that work with your own decorations. Join us at Cheerful Spirit to find a beautiful decoration for your home.

Book Recommendations

If you would like to learn more about the history of Christmas traditions mixed with some fun and cheer, here are four books that we highly recommend!:

Taking Back Your Holidays: A Whimsical Guide to a Lighter, Brighter Christmas Audible Audiobook – Unabridged Yvonne Lacey (Author, Narrator, Publisher)

Cheerful Spirit Creations

Chicken Soup for the Soul – Christmas Magic: 101 Holiday Tales of Inspiration, Love, and Wonder Audible Audiobook – Unabridged Jack Canfield (Author), Jean Barrett (Narrator), Mark Victor Hansen (Author), Audible Studios (Publisher)

Cheerful Spirit Creations

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas – by Ace Collins  (Author)

Cheerful Spirit Creations

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book  – by Diane Muldrow (Author)

Cheerful Spirit Creations