Many homes right now have a Christmas tree, whether it be real or fake there is one. This tradition that started in Germany has quite the history behind it. There is the belief that there are several different countries that had a Christmas tree like tradition dating back to the 16th century. Here are some facts about, what is considered, to be the origins of the Christmas tree from several different countries.
- Georgia: Chichilaki is a white tree that the Georgians use today. This shape is very similar to that of a Christmas tree, the biggest difference is the color of the tree is white. It is said to resemble the beard of St. Basil the Great, a man similar to Santa Claus.
- Poland: An old pagan custom of a branch of fir, spruce or pine from the ceiling. This is called Podłaźniczka, which is associated with Koliada a winter festival. The branch would be decorated with fruits, nuts, cookie, colored paper, and stars. Eventually, this was replaced in the late 18th century with the German tradition of the Christmas tree.
- Scandanavia and Germany: The Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the god Thor. Eventually, with the Christianize this lead to the oaks replacement of Thor by those who honored Saint Boniface.
- Estonia and Latvia: The tradition of decorating trees is believed to have started with entertaining the children and store apprentices during the winter season. The Brotherhood of Blackheads would put up the tree until the end of the season they would take the tree down and dance around it. The tree’s would primarily be up in guild halls and other places of gathering.
As time goes on the tradition of using a tree to decorate started to evolve. Around the 18th century, several countries began to start up the tradition of the Christmas tree we know today.
- Germany: Although, this tradition had not spread to the mainland, in Rhineland this custom became well known. The use of wax candles and expensive items were used to decorate the tree. Around 1815, the custom began to gain recognition when Prussian officials emigrated Germany following the Congress of Vienna. One of the decisive factors in deciding the use of the Christmas tree was placing them in the Army barracks during the Franco-Prussian War.
- European Nobility: I know this isn’t a specific country, but the use of the Christmas tree in European Nobility spread as far as Russia. Introduced by nobility in Austria and Denmark this tradition began to grow and become enjoyed by all.
- Britain: When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert the use of the Christmas tree would become a fast Christmas decoration within the next year. Prince Albert was German, so he brought over the tradition of the Christmas tree with him. In 1841, the use of the tree in the middle class became more widespread.
- Canada: In 1781, the Christmas tree was introduced by Brunswick soldiers. Eventually, it became a custom in holiday parties once army generals began using them.
- United States: With many immigrants, those of German descent brought over the custom of the Christmas tree with them. However, the use of the Christmas tree became more widespread when a newspaper showed a clipping of the Christmas tree in Windsor Castle in 1841. Yes, once again, Prince Albert inspired the decoration of the Christmas tree.
From the 20th century to today, the Christmas tree has become a custom that many partake in. When electricity came out, the use of Christmas lights became more common. Families go out to tree farms to cut down the perfect tree to place in their living room to decorate with ornaments. Then there are those, who decide to get buy a fake one and not deal with the mess that a Christmas tree leaves. Today, all around the world, there are public displays of Christmas tree leading to a spectacle for all to enjoy.