Christmas Traditions: The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree
The Fir Tree

The first Christmas tree was a fir tree and is thought to have been planted by St Boniface (675-754) in the center of the German town of Geismar after he had cut down the sacred tree, Thor.  Eight hundred years later, the tradition of putting up and decorating a fir tree in the winter months was extremely popular in Northern Germany. The fir tree was the focus of singing, dancing, and feasting before it was set alight.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert Decorating the Christmas Tree
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert Decorating the Christmas Tree

German nobility were largely responsible for the spread of the Christmas tree in Europe and beyond during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The first Christmas tree was introduced to England by Queen Charlotte from Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. However, it was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who loved decorating the Christmas tree and a woodcut (cutting an image into a piece of wood and then dipping it in ink, before stamping on paper) of the Royal family doing so, popularized the tradition all over the world!

In 1845, Hans Christian Anderson wrote “The Fir Tree”, a story of a fir tree used as a Christmas tree. The story is very short, but reveals a much deeper meaning for life throughout the years. You can read it HERE. It is the perfect story for Christmas. If you read no other story at Christmas I would suggest taking the time to read this one, it is that special. One of my favorite lines from the story is “it made his bark ache, and this pain is as bad for a slender fir-tree, as headache is for us.”

The arrival and lighting of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square on the first Thursday of December marks the beginning of Christmas for many Londeners. It is a 65 foot Norwegian spruce between 50 to 60 years old and stands in the square until Twelfth Night. (January 5th) It traditionally has five hundred white fairy lights on it. The tree is a gift every year to the people of London from the City of Oslo, Norway, to express thanks for support during World War II.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s