FIRST BRIEF HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS TREE
Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas tree , attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25—Christmas Day—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
How Did Christmas Start?
The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.
In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.
The end of December was a perfect time for celebration in most areas of Europe. At that time of year, most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter. For many, it was the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat. In addition, most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.
In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.
What is the origin of the Christmas tree?
Christmas Trees From Germany
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree.
How Did Christmas Trees Start?
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
Who Brought Christmas Trees to America?
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’ second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offence; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
Tinsel and The Legend of the Christmas Spider:-
Tinsel was also created in Germany, where it was originally made from thin strips of beaten silver. But when plastic/man-made tinsel was invented, it became very popular as it was much cheaper than real silver and also lighter to go on the tree!
There are also folk stories about how tinsel was created – by The Christmas Spider!
These tales seem to have started in Eastern Germany, Poland or Ukraine but are also told in parts of Finland and Scandinavia. The stories are now also popular in other countries such as the USA; although I live in the UK and most people in my country have never heard of the story/legend!
All the versions of the story involve a poor family who can’t afford to decorate a Tree for Christmas (in some versions the tree grew from a pine cone in their house, in others the family have bought a tree into the house). When the children go to sleep on Christmas Eve a spider covers the tree in cobwebs. Then on Christmas morning the cobwebs are magically turned into silver and gold strands which decorate the tree!
Some versions of the story say that it’s the light of the sun which changed the cobwebs into silver and gold but other versions say it’s St Nicholas / Santa Claus / Father Christmas / das Christkind which made the magic happen.
In parts of Germany, Poland, and Ukraine it’s meant to be good luck to find a spider or a spider’s web on your Christmas Tree. Spider’s web Christmas Tree decorations are also popular in Ukraine. They’re called ‘pavuchky’ (which means ‘little spider’) and the decorations are normally made of paper and silver wire. You might even put an artificial spider’s web on your tree!
Christmas Tree Lights:-
There are a few different claims as to who invented popularised the first strings of ‘electric’ Christmas Tree lights. In 1880, the famous inventor Thomas Edison put some of his new electric light bulbs around his office. And in 1882 Edward Johnson, who was a colleague of Edison, hand-strung 80 red, white and blue bulbs together and put them on his tree in his New York apartment (there were two additional strings of 28 lights mounted from the ceiling!).
In 1890 the Edison company published a brochure offering lighting services for Christmas. In 1900 another Edison advert offered bulbs which you could rent, along with their lighting system, for use over Christmas! There are records in a diary from 1891 where settlers in Montana used electric lights on a tree. However, most people couldn’t easily use electric tree lights at this time as electricity wasn’t widely installed in homes. But rich people liked to show off with lights installed just for Christmas, this would have cost about $300 per tree then, more than $2000 money today!
Electric tree lights first because widely known in the USA in 1895 when President Grover Cleveland has the tree in the White House decorated with lights as his young daughters liked them! The tradition of the National Christmas Tree on the White House lawn started in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge.
The first commercially available electric string of lights, which more people could afford, were advertised in 1903 when a string of 24 lights cost $12 or you could rent lights from $1.50. This was still quite expensive, but much cheaper than $300.
Another claim to the first widespread sale of strings of lights comes from Ralph Morris, an American telephonist. In 1908, he used telephone wire to string together small bulbs from a telephone exchange and decorated a table top tree with them. Leavitt Morris, the son of Ralph, wrote an article in 1952 for the Christian Science Monitor, about his father inventing Christmas Tree lights, as he was un-aware of the Edison lights.
In 1885 a hospital in Chicago burned down because of candles on a Christmas Tree. In 1908 insurance companies in the USA tried to get a law made that would ban candles from being used on Christmas Trees because of the many fires they had caused. However, people still used candles to light Christmas Trees and there were more fires.
Top 5 BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS TREES of 2020 around the WORLD
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
Vilnius – Lithuania
Rockefeller Center Christmas tree – New York
Plaza de la Constitución, Mexico
Differentiate traditional Christmas celebration way and modern way:-
Simple Ways To Celebrate A Traditional Christmas
- Serve Home-Grown Food. A thoughtful way to make your holiday dinner table more traditional is to serve a few homegrown foods.
- Do Some Baking.
- Help Those In Need.
- Make Home-Crafted Gifts.
- Avoid The Rush.
- Schedule Relaxation.
- Decorate Like The Old Days.
- Go On Nature Walks.
A modern way to celebrate Christmas
- Skip the gifts. It may sound outrageous, but what if you skip gifting altogether?
- Go cultural.
- Choose a different main course.
- Give a handmade gift.
- Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas.
- Give Christmas to someone else.
- Start the new year a week early.
In the conclusion first half history about Christmas, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. Top 5 beautiful Christmas trees of 2020 in this blog in the end comparison b/w celebrating traditional way and modern way of Christmas.
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