The Christmas Tree

A Christmas custom is born!


Be it real or artificial; traditional, fancy or LED; the Christmas tree has become part and parcel of the Christmas tradition. During the festive season it can be seen everywhere – adorning houses, front yards, squares and shopping plazas. Although it now garners a lot of attention, the Christmas tree has far more humble beginnings…


Historically, the origins of the Christmas tree can be traced as far back as the 15th century. In what is now called Tallinn in Estonia, a tree was erected by the Brotherhood of Blackheads in their house. As the festive celebrations were coming to an end, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square and brotherhood members danced around it. The Guilds took on this custom and there are recorded instances where a tree was decorated and put outside guild halls during Christmas to be enjoyed by members and their families.


During the early years of the 18th century, the towns of upper Rhineland were the first areas which made the setting up of this Christmas tree a custom. At first, Roman Catholics viewed it as a Protestant tradition. However, as this custom continued to spread, they realised they couldn’t stop its adoption by members of the community and hence accepted it.


In the 19th century, it had become popular amongst nobility and was introduced in royal courts. The Christmas tree started popping up in various countries across the globe – Canada, Austria, France, Denmark, Britain and even Russia. It made its first appearance in print thanks to Hans Christian Andersen. In his fairy-tale The Fir Tree, Andersen told the story of a fir-tree who was transformed into a Christmas tree. In America, it started to gain popularity after an illustration was printed in Godey’s Lady’s Book in the mid 1800’s. Godey’s copied their illustration from the one appearing in the Illustrated London News in 1848 depicting the British Royal family around their Christmas tree at their Windsor Castle.


By the 20th century, the Christmas tree started taking centre stage in most countries. There has never been a set date as to when the Christmas tree should be set up. Early on, people used to erect it just before Christmas. Nowadays, it is set up as early as the beginning of December. Regardless of the date, the Christmas tree is surely set to make its grand appearance during the festive season.

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One Comment

  • Jane says:

    I love Christmas trees….they remind me very much of the great Christmas’s I used to have when I was a child….

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