Have you ever wondered what was the history of Christmas tree, this very important and yet so debated part of our holidays?
Nobody knows for sure when Christmas trees as we know them now have brightened the homes of Christians for the first time but it is believed that the Protestant reformer Martin Luther was the first who added candles to a tree.
The story says that Martin Luther was walking home during a winter evening when he saw the fabulous image of stars shining through the branches of a tree. In an attempt to re-create the scene for his family, he brought a tree in their home and he lighted some candles tied to its branches. Everybody loved it so much that it became a symbol of their holidays.
In the U.S. the tradition of decorated trees has been adopted a few centuries later. The New England Puritans were considering the decorated trees, the Christmas carols and any other celebration of Christmas than going to church, a blasphemy.
In fact, in 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts has even issued a law making any other form of celebrating Christmas, besides the church services, illegal. The law has been enacted until the arrival of German and Irish immigrants with their traditions, among which the decorated tree. But the Puritans were still considering it a pagan tradition until the 1840s.
Things changed for the Christmas tree in 1846 when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, very popular at that time, appeared in a picture around a decorated Christmas tree. This is when most of the Americans began embracing the tradition.
However, while the Europeans used mostly small trees, no more than four feet high, Americans liked much taller trees that would reach the ceiling.
The downside was that Germans were chopping off the top of larger trees, leaving the rest to die so the German forests began to suffer. Concerned about the unnecessary waste, President Theodore Roosevelt has even banned Christmas trees at the White House to set an example, hoping that people will end this practice.
The first artificial tree was made in Germany from goose feathers before the 1900s. However, the tree couldn’t hold ornaments since it was lighter than them.
It took another 30 years for an American company – Addis Brush Company – manufacturer of toilet bowl brushes, to create a plastic tree made from brush bristles. This tree was the grandfather of the artificial trees we know today.
Nowadays, specialized manufacturers create Christmas trees which look more real than the real trees, which makes many Americans take the perfect tree for granted.
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