Christmas Tree Traditions – How Did it Start?

by WriterArtist

Did you ever wonder how did the beautiful fir tree become the symbol of Christmas tree? Find out about the traditions and legends accompanying the sacred tree of Christmas.

The Christmas tree tradition is older than Christmas, people paid gratitude and homage to the trees who where the sole reason life could sustain on the earth.

The tree is the force of life and without trees we cannot imagine life. The glowing symbol of life, the tree stands for harmony, peace and greenery. Trees also signify purity and innocence. Without trees the planet will be polluted, trees are a source to oxygen and the ozone that protects our environment from heavenly bodies such as comets and space debris.

The tree in many ways is an important way of connecting to the eternal, it not only is a feast to eyes, it offers peace and solitude as well. It also nurtures a selfless love and good will. It gives a hope in the winter that it will be over soon. It is a symbol of evergreen greenery and the symbol of life just like water which is essential commodity to survive.

Where did Christmas Trees Come from?


Christmas trees or other trees, they first became an important part of German Xmas celebrations. Analogous to Saint Claus they gradually got adopted to Christmas traditions and became an important part of the festive season. The Germans consider tree as on essential part of their festivals and especially for the children. In Germany kids are told that the Christmas tree was out by Santa Claus.

Why is Christmas Tree Decorated?


At some point of time the tree became the savior and people started offering candles, fruits, nuts as an important part of paying gratitude when they had good harvest.


They offered eatables like cakes and cookies too. Now however; the embellishments are rarely eatables, they are replaced by glittering ornaments, sparkling baubles, star toppers, tinsels, toys and mementoes.


Traditionally the Christmas tree is decorated in the afternoon so that it is ready for the Christmas Eve and kept hidden from the kids.



The children get to see the decorated tree after the special meal. Nowadays, since kids help their parents to set the Christmas tree along with the decorations and hangings, they know it all the time.

The German Christmas Tree Legends - Part I

In one of the legends Christmas tree was brought to Germany by Saint Boniface, a monk from Devonshire. The triangular fir tree that he brought with him was a symbol of the teachings of God. It signifies the Holy Trinity of God - the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. This got converted to a custom and people began to revere the fir tree as God’s tree. The ancient people used to worship oak tree before. In 12th century the fir tree became sacred and was hung upside down from ceilings at Christmas as a symbol of Christianity. 

The Christmas Tree Legend in America


During the Independence war, Christmas trees were brought by Hessian troops. Another legend has it that American troops set up a Christmas tree at Fort Dearborn in Illinois in 18th century. Another record shows the very first trees were used for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem in 17th century. These trees were not the real fir trees but were the shape of wooden pyramids adorned with green branches and candles.


In around 1842, the custom of decorating a Christmas tree was introduced by Charles Minnegrode. Soon the custom of Christmas tree decoration followed and it became a fashion statement. The first retail business of Christmas tree started around that time when Mark Carr brought the trees to the venues of New York Street from Catskills and opened the first shop for everyone in US.


 Also Franklin Pierce was the first President in United Stated who brought a Christmas tree in White House to celebrate Xmas for a group of school children. The official Christmas tree was introduced in 1923 in the White House lawn by president Calvin Coolidge. Thus started the Christmas tree traditions in the United States of America.


The German Christmas Tree Legends - Part II

In central Europe, Christians began to honour the Christmas tree and during 16th century, martin Luther King is said to have used the Christmas tree with candle decorations. The miniature Christmas tree was decorated with stars that kept twinkling throughout the night. The Germans brought these traditions to Great Britain but at that time the British did not like the German monarchy and their customs.

The Christmas tree was not part of British customs. However, in 18th century Queen Victoria posed with the German Prince Albert with the kids around a Christmas tree. Since she was very famous among the subjects, the Court approved and the tradition was embraced by the people analogous to all fashions that the Queen approved of. According to a different legend, it is Queen Charlotte, Queen Victoria’s grandmother who brought the Christmas tree in her lodge at Windsor on the day of Christmas thus starting the traditions of decorating the Christmas tree during the birth of Christ.

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Updated: 12/09/2014, WriterArtist
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DerdriuMarriner on 01/10/2023

The wrought-iron Christmas tree looks particularly functional, unusual and versatile.

What would you think of one that's used throughout the year as backpack, bag, coat, jacket hanger -- perhaps also for gloves, hats, mittens and scarves, perhaps even for boots and shoes -- and for the holidays as a tree decorated with hanging baskets, cookies, decorations and presents?

Marie on 12/16/2014

I just can't imagine a Christmas without a decorated tree - I love this tradition as it spells the start of a joyful and long period of time spent with family and friends. I just hate having to take it back down again.

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