Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, What is your history?

As we gather around the Christmas tree this holiday, it’s a good time for a little history lesson about why the Christmas tree has become a center point of our yuletide celebrations.

It all started a very long time ago – dating back to before Christianity. In the winter season, there was great value placed on trees and plants that remained green year around – something we can certainly appreciate in the Midwest! The ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Chinese, to mention a few, slowly adopted the practice of bringing evergreens into their homes.

In the late 16th century, devout Christians in Germany were the first to make the Christmas tree a symbol of their faith and religion. Legend has it, that Martin Luther was the first to add lights to the Christmas tree with candles nestled on evergreen boughs. Still, the idea of a Christmas tree was considered a pagan symbol. In many countries, evergreen trees or garlands were used to ward off evil.

Early German settlers brought their tradition of a Christmas tree to the United States in the 1800s but beyond German homes, the Christmas tree had little or no place in the holiday season. If it wasn’t for the much-beloved Queen of England, Victoria, and her German-born prince Albert, the Christmas tree would have never gained broad popularity in the US or the world. There were many drawings, paintings, and publications about the joyful celebration of the royal family with the Christmas tree front and center adorned with ornaments, lights, and presents around the tree. After this, the idea of a Christmas tree went viral Victorian-style!

By the latter part of the century, the Christmas tree finally became a holiday tradition. In the 1890s Woolworth sold over $25 million annually in ornaments and soon strands of electric lights became available pushing the adoption of the tree into another realm. The lighting of massive Holiday trees at the White House, Rockefeller Plaza, and hometown squares around the country is now commonplace.

By 1930, the first ‘fake’ trees came on the market using brush bristles. This was followed by trees made with aluminum, PVC, and plastics. It is now reported that approximately 80% of Christmas trees are fake. The fake tree may offer all the conveniences, but they lack the fresh pine scent of a real Christmas tree.

Whether your tree is a fresh-cut tree from the woodlands or one from your attic enjoy the spirit of the glorious tradition this holiday season. Stop by Barn Owl in Carol Stream, IL for all your fresh-cut Christmas tree needs this holiday!