Origin of the Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree tradition dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations that treasured evergreens as a symbol of life’s triumph over death or the rebirth of spring following winter. Ancient Egyptians brought palm leaves into their homes during the winter solstice to celebrate life’s triumph over death. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice during the feast of Saturnalia when they decorated their homes with evergreens and lights while they feasted and exchanged gifts. The Druids of Great Britain used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals and placed evergreen branches over doors to ward off evil spirits.

Father and son collecting a tree in the forest, painting by Franz Krüger

Credit: wikiwand.org - Franz Krüger

The Christmas tree tradition began in Germany and Scandinavia during the Middle Ages when people brought evergreens into their homes during the winter solstice to display their hope for the coming spring. It is believed that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating an evergreen to celebrate Christmas. This tradition was brought to America by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Christmas tree market began in 1851 when an enterprising Catskill farmer drove two ox carts full of Christmas trees to New York and sold all of them. In the early 1900’s, about 20% of households had a Christmas tree. By the 1920’s the Christmas tree was nearly universal. The most popular Christmas trees in the United States based on sales are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, White Spruce, White Pine and Balsam Fir.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 12/9/2012