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A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an
evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anc ...

evergreen
conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The division contains a single ex ...

conifer
, such as a
fir Firs (''Abies'') are a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including ...

fir
,
spruce A spruce is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including ...

spruce
, or
pine A pine is any conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The divi ...

pine
, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of
Christmas Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around the world ...

Christmas
, originating in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
associated with
Saint Boniface Boniface ( la, Bonifatius; 675 – 5 June 754), born in the Crediton Crediton is a town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Mid Devon district of Devon in England. It stands on the A377 road, A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road ...
. The custom was developed in medieval
Livonia Livonia ( liv, Līvõmō, et, Liivimaa, fi, Liivinmaa, German and North Germanic languages, Scandinavian languages: ', archaic German: ''Liefland'', nl, Lijfland, Latvian language, Latvian and lt, Livonija, pl, Inflanty, archaic English ...

Livonia
(present-day
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
and
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
), and in
early modern Germany , 1648 The German-speaking states in the early modern period (1500–1800) were divided politically and religiously. They all suffered greatly in the Thirty Years War (1618–1648). Catholic Austria and Lutheran Prussia were the major players. T ...
where German Protestant Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
areas of Germany and the
Baltic governorates The Baltic governorates (russian: Прибалтийские губернии), originally the Ostsee governorates (german: Ostseegouvernements, russian: Остзейские губернии), was a collective name for the administrative units of ...
during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes. The tree was traditionally decorated with "roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers,
tinsel Tinsel is a type of decorative material that mimics the effect of ice, consisting of thin strips of sparkling material attached to a thread. When in long narrow strips not attached to thread, it is called "lametta", and emulates icicles. It was o ...

tinsel
, sweetmeats". began to illuminate Christmas trees with candles, which were often replaced by
Christmas lights Christmas lights (also known as fairy lights, festive lights or string lights) are lights often used for decoration in celebration of Christmas, often on display throughout the Christmas and holiday season, Christmas season including Advent and ...

Christmas lights
after the advent of
electrification Electrification is the process of powering by electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion Image:Leaving Yongsan Station.jpg, 300px, Motion involves a change in position In physics, mo ...

electrification
. Today, there is a wide variety of , such as
garland A garland is a decorative braid, knot or wreath of flowers, leaves, or other material. Garlands can be worn on the head or around the neck, hung on an inanimate object, or laid in a place of cultural or religious importance. garlands on a Christma ...

garland
s, ,
tinsel Tinsel is a type of decorative material that mimics the effect of ice, consisting of thin strips of sparkling material attached to a thread. When in long narrow strips not attached to thread, it is called "lametta", and emulates icicles. It was o ...

tinsel
, and
candy cane A candy cane is a cane-shaped stick candy often associated with Christmastide Christmastide (also known as Christmastime or the Christmas season) is a season of the liturgical year in most Christianity, Christian churches. In some Christian de ...

candy cane
s. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the
Angel An angel is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abilities embodied in or provided by such ...

Angel
Gabriel In the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Ab ...

Gabriel
or the
Star of Bethlehem The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, appears in the nativity of Jesus, nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew where "wise men from the East" (biblical Magi, Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. There, they meet King Herod ...

Star of Bethlehem
, respectively, from the Nativity. Edible items such as
gingerbread Gingerbread refers to a broad category of baked goods, typically flavored with ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and sweetened with honey, sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of whic ...

gingerbread
,
chocolate Chocolate is a food product made from roasted and ground cacao pods, that is available as a liquid, solid or paste, on its own or as a flavoring agent Flavor, or flavour, is the perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin ...

chocolate
, and other sweets are also popular and are tied to or hung from the tree's branches with ribbons. The
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
had long resisted this custom of the
Lutheran Church Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a major ...

Lutheran Church
and the
Vatican Christmas tree The Vatican Christmas Tree, also called the Saint Peter's Square Christmas Tree, is the decorated tree that is erected annually in the Saint Peter's Square St. Peter's Square ( it, Piazza San Pietro , la, Forum Sancti Petri) is a large plaza l ...

Vatican Christmas tree
stood for the first time in
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
in 1982.Gillian Cooke, ''A Celebration of Christmas'', 1980, page 62: "Martin Luther has been credited with the creation of the Christmas tree.... The Christmas tree did not spring fully fledged into... tree was slow to spread from its Alsatian home, partly because of resistance to its supposed Lutheran origins." In the
Western Christian Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings ...
tradition, Christmas trees are variously erected on days such as the first day of Advent or even as late as
Christmas Eve Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration amo ...

Christmas Eve
depending on the country; customs of the same faith hold that the two traditional days when Christmas decorations, such as the Christmas tree, are removed are
Twelfth Night ''Twelfth Night'', or ''What You Will'' is a romantic comedy Romantic comedy (also known as romcom or rom-com) is a subgenre of comedy and slice-of-life Slice of life describes the depiction of mundane experiences in art and entertainm ...
and, if they are not taken down on that day,
Candlemas Candlemas (also spelled Candlemass), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentatio ...
, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some
denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination ( ...
. The Christmas tree is sometimes compared with the "
Yule Yule (also called Jul, Julblot, jól, jólablót, joulu, "Yule time" or "Yule season") is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scand ...
-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloric origins.


History


Ancient predecessors

Sources have offered a connection between the first documented Christmas trees in Alsace around 1600 and pre-Christian traditions. For example, according to the ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin for "British Encyclopaedia") is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia which is now published exclusively as an online encyclopedia, online encyclopaedia. It was formerly published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., ...
'', "The use of
evergreen trees In botany, an evergreen is a plant which has foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season. This also pertains to plants that retain their foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, which c ...

evergreen trees
, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient
Egyptians Egyptians ( arz, المصريين, ; cop, ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ, remenkhēmi) are an ethnic group of people originating from the country of Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning t ...
,
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...

Chinese
, and
Hebrews The terms ''Hebrews'' (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Jud ...

Hebrews
. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time." During the Roman mid-winter festival of
Saturnalia Saturnalia is an ancient Roman festival and holiday in honour of the god Saturn Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius of about nine an ...
, houses were decorated with
wreaths A wreath () is an assortment of flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biologic ...
of evergreen plants, along with other antecedent customs now associated with Christmas. Contemporary celebration of the Christmas tree is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, wherein
Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Pro ...

Viking
and
Saxon The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...

Saxon
worshiped trees. The story of
Saint Boniface Boniface ( la, Bonifatius; 675 – 5 June 754), born in the Crediton Crediton is a town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Mid Devon district of Devon in England. It stands on the A377 road, A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road ...
cutting down Donar's Oak illustrates the pagan practices in 8th century among the Germans. A later folk version of the story adds the detail that an evergreen tree grew in place of the felled oak, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
and how it points to heaven.


Origin of the modern Christmas tree

Modern Christmas trees originated during the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...
in
early modern Germany , 1648 The German-speaking states in the early modern period (1500–1800) were divided politically and religiously. They all suffered greatly in the Thirty Years War (1618–1648). Catholic Austria and Lutheran Prussia were the major players. T ...
. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citiz ...

Martin Luther
, who is said to have first added lighted candles to an
evergreen In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Anc ...

evergreen
tree. The earliest known firmly dated representation of a Christmas tree is on the keystone sculpture of a private home in , Alsace (then part of Germany, today France), with the date 1576. Modern Christmas trees have been related to the " tree of paradise" of medieval
mystery play Mystery plays and miracle plays (they are distinguished as two different forms although the terms are often used interchangeably) are among the earliest formally developed Play (theatre), plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused ...
s that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and
name day In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social ...
of
Adam and Eve Adam (Hebrew: ''ʾĀḏām'') and Eve ( ''‎‎Ḥavvā'') according to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, were the first man and woman. They are central to the belief that humanity is in essence a single family, with everyone des ...

Adam and Eve
in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the
Eucharist The Eucharist (; grc-gre, εὐχαριστία, eucharistía, thanksgiving) also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, among other names, is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monothe ...

Eucharist
and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the
Christmas crib #REDIRECT Nativity scene #REDIRECT Nativity scene#REDIRECT Nativity scene In the Christian tradition, a nativity scene (also known as a manger scene, crib, crèche (or ), or in Italian ''presepio'' or ''presepe'', or Bethlehem) is the special e ...

Christmas crib
, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls. At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor appears referred in the 15th century Regiment of the
Cistercian The Cistercians, () officially the Order of Cistercians ( la, (Sacer) Ordo Cisterciensis, abbreviated as OCist or SOCist), are a Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines and follow the Rule of Saint Be ...
Alcobaça Monastery The Alcobaça Monastery ( pt, Mosteiro de Alcobaça, ''Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça'') is a Catholic monastic complex located in the town of Alcobaça, Portugal, Alcobaça, in central Portugal, some 120km north of Lisbon. The monastery was e ...
in
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
. The Regiment of the local ''high-Sacristans'' of the Cistercian Order refers to what may be considered the oldest references to the Christmas tree: "Note on how to put the Christmas branch, ''scilicet'': On the Christmas eve, you will look for a large Branch of green laurel, and you shall reap many red oranges, and place them on the branches that come of the laurel, specifically as you have seen, and in every orange you shall put a candle, and hang the Branch by a rope in the pole, which shall be by the candle of the high altar."


Estonia, Latvia, and Germany

Customs of erecting decorated trees in winter time can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era
guild A guild is an association of artisan Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand. These objects may be functiona ...
s in
Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: Norddeutschland) is the region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomen ...
and
Livonia Livonia ( liv, Līvõmō, et, Liivimaa, fi, Liivinmaa, German and North Germanic languages, Scandinavian languages: ', archaic German: ''Liefland'', nl, Lijfland, Latvian language, Latvian and lt, Livonija, pl, Inflanty, archaic English ...

Livonia
. The first evidence of decorated trees associated with Christmas Day are trees in guildhalls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. In Livonia (present-day
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
and
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
), in 1441, 1442, 1510, and 1514, the
Brotherhood of Blackheads The Brotherhood of Blackheads (german: Bruderschaft der Schwarzhäupter; et, Mustpeade vennaskond; lv, Melngalvju brālības) is an association of local unmarried merchants A merchant is a person who trades in commodities produced by other p ...
erected a tree for the holidays in their guild houses in Reval (now
Tallinn Tallinn (; ) is the most populous, primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 millio ...

Tallinn
) and
Riga Riga (; lv, Rīga , liv, Rīgõ, ) is the capital of Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links ...

Riga
. On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square, where the members of the brotherhood danced around it. A
Bremen Bremen (, also ; Low German : : : : : , minority = (70,000) (30,000) (8,000) , familycolor = Indo-European , fam2 = Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by t ...
guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels, and paper flowers" was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members' children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day. In 1584, the pastor and chronicler
Balthasar Russow Balthasar Russow (1536–1600) was one of the most important Livonian and Estonian chroniclers. Russow was born in Reval, Livonia (now Tallinn, Estonia). He was educated at an academy in Stettin, Pomerania (now Szczecin, Poland). He was the Luthe ...
in his (1584) wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated
spruce A spruce is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including ...

spruce
at the market square, where the young men "went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame". After the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity Christianity is an Abra ...
, such trees are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic . This transition from the guild hall to the bourgeois family homes in the Protestant parts of Germany ultimately gives rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Poland

In
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
, there is a folk tradition dating back to an old pre-Christian custom of suspending a branch of fir, spruce, or pine from the ceiling rafters, called '' podłaźniczka'', during the time of the
Koliada 200px, Russian Christmas postcard. 1910s Koliada or koleda (Cyrillic , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hierog ...
winter festival. The branches were decorated with apples, nuts, acorns, and stars made of straw. In more recent times, the decorations also included colored paper cutouts ('' wycinanki''),
wafer A wafer is a crisp, often sweet, very thin, flat, light and dry cookie A cookie is a baked Baking is a method of preparing food that uses dry heat, typically in an oven, but can also be done in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most comm ...
s,
cookie A cookie is a Baked goods, baked or cooked snack or Dessert, dessert that is typically small, flat and sweet. It usually contains flour, sugar, egg, and some type of Cooking oil, oil, fat, or butter. It may include other ingredients such as r ...

cookie
s, and Christmas baubles. According to old pagan beliefs, the branch's powers were linked to good harvest and prosperity. The custom was practiced by the peasants until the early 20th century, particularly in the regions of
Lesser Poland Lesser Poland, often known by its Polish language, Polish name Małopolska ( la, Polonia Minor), is a historical region situated in southern and south-eastern Poland. Its capital and largest city is Kraków. Throughout centuries, Lesser Pol ...
and
Upper Silesia Upper Silesia ( pl, Górny Śląsk; szl, Gōrny Ślōnsk; cs, Horní Slezsko; german: Oberschlesien; Silesian German: ; la, Silesia Superior) is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia, located mostly in Poland ...
. Most often the branches were hung above the '' wigilia'' dinner table on
Christmas Eve Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration amo ...

Christmas Eve
. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the tradition over time was almost completely replaced by the later German practice of decorating a standing Christmas tree. The custom was partly revived in the 1970s and continues in some homes, particularly in the rural communities, to this day.


18th to early 20th centuries


Adoption by European nobility

In the early 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility and spread to royal courts as far as Russia. Introduced by Fanny von Arnstein and popularized by
Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg Henrietta Alexandrine Friederike Wilhelmine of Nassau-Weilburg, then of Nassau (areas now part of Germany) (30 October 1797 Palace Ermitage, Bayreuth – 29 December 1829, Vienna) was the wife of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. Her husband was a ...
the Christmas tree reached
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, mos ...

Vienna
in 1814 during the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
, and the custom spread across Austria in the following years. In
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, the first Christmas tree was introduced in 1840 by the duchesse d'Orléans. In Denmark a Danish newspaper claims that the first attested Christmas tree was lit in 1808 by countess Wilhemine of Holsteinborg. It was the aging countess who told the story of the first Danish Christmas tree to the Danish writer
Hans Christian Andersen Hans Christian Andersen (, ; 2 April 1805 – 4 August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, he is best remembered for his literary fairy tales A fairy tale, fairytale, wond ...

Hans Christian Andersen
in 1865. He had published a fairy tale called ''
The Fir-Tree "The Fir-Tree" ( Danish: ''Grantræet'') is a literary fairy tale A fairy tale, fairytale, wonder tale, magic tale, fairy story or ''Märchen'' is an instance of a folklore genre that takes the form of a short story A short story is a piece o ...
'' in 1844, recounting the fate of a fir tree being used as a Christmas tree.


Germany

By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in towns of the upper
Rhineland The Rhineland (german: Rheinland; french: Rhénanie; nl, Rijnland; ksh, Rhingland; Latinised name: ''Rhenania'') is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly Middle Rhine, its middle section. Term ...

Rhineland
, but it had not yet spread to rural areas. Wax candles, expensive items at the time, are found in attestations from the late 18th century. Along the lower Rhine, an area of Roman Catholic majority, the Christmas tree was largely regarded as a Protestant custom. As a result, it remained confined to the upper Rhineland for a relatively long period of time. The custom did eventually gain wider acceptance beginning around 1815 by way of
Prussian Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūsija'' was a historically prominent Germans, German state that originated in 1525 with Duchy of Prussia, a duchy centered on the Prussia (region), region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Balt ...
officials who emigrated there following the
Congress of Vienna The Congress of Vienna (, ) of 1814–1815 was an international diplomatic conference to reconstitute the European political order after the downfall of the French Emperor Napoleon I Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) w ...

Congress of Vienna
. In the 19th century, the Christmas tree was taken to be an expression of
German culture The culture of Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin ''saeculum'', "worldly" or "of a generation") is the state of being u ...
and of , especially among
emigrants Emigration is the act of leaving a resident country or place of residence with the intent to settle elsewhere (to permanently leave a country). Conversely, immigration Immigration is the international movement of people to a destination ...
overseas. A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army's decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the
Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War,, german: Deutsch-Französischer Krieg often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire The Second French Empire (; officially the French Empire ...
. Only at the start of the 20th century did Christmas trees appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.


Slovenia

Early Slovenian custom dating back to around the 17th century was to suspend the tree either upright or upside-down above the well, a corner of the dinner table, in the backyard, or from the fences, modestly decorated with fruits or not decorated at all. German brewer Peter Luelsdorf brought the first Christmas tree of the current tradition to
Slovenia Slovenia ( ; sl, Slovenija ), officially the Republic of Slovenia (Slovene: , abbr.: ''RS''), is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, l ...

Slovenia
in 1845. He set it up in his small brewery
inn Inns are generally establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging Lodging refers to the use of a short-term dwelling In law, a dwelling (also known as a residence or an abode) is a self-contained unit of accommodation ...

inn
in
Ljubljana Ljubljana (also known by other historical names) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more for ...

Ljubljana
, the Slovenian capital. German officials, craftsmen and merchants quickly spread the tradition among the bourgeois population. The trees were typically decorated with
walnuts A walnut is the nut Nut often refers to: * Nut (fruit), a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed * Nut (food), collective noun for dry and edible fruits or seeds * Nut (hardware), a fastener used with a bolt Nut or Nuts may also refer to: ...

walnuts
, golden
apples An apple is an edible fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this fie ...

apples
, , and candles. At first the Catholic majority rejected this custom because they considered it a typical Protestant tradition. The first decorated Christmas Market was organized in
Ljubljana Ljubljana (also known by other historical names) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more for ...

Ljubljana
already in 1859. However, this tradition was almost unknown to the rural population until
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, after which everyone started decorating trees.
Spruce A spruce is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including ...

Spruce
trees have a centuries-long tradition in Slovenia. After
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
during
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...
period, trees set in the public places (towns, squares, and markets) were politically replaced with , a symbol of
socialism Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals, ...
and Slavic mythology strongly associated with loyalty, courage, and dignity. However, spruce retained its popularity in Slovenian homes during those years and came back to public places after independence.


Britain

Although the tradition of decorating churches and homes with evergreens at Christmas was long established, the custom of decorating an entire small tree was unknown in Britain until some two centuries ago. The German-born
Queen Charlotte Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Sophia Charlotte; 19 May 1744 – 17 November 1818) was Queen of Great Britain Queen may refer to: Monarchy * Queen regnant A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch, equivalent in ...

Queen Charlotte
introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children in 1800. The custom did not at first spread much beyond the royal family. Queen Victoria as a child was familiar with it and a tree was placed in her room every Christmas. In her journal for Christmas Eve 1832, the delighted 13-year-old princess wrote:
After dinner... we then went into the drawing room near the dining room... There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees...
After Victoria's marriage to her German cousin
Prince Albert Prince Albert most commonly refers to: *Albert, Prince Consort german: link=no, Franz Albert August Karl Emanuel , house = , father = Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , mother = Princess Louise of Saxe-Gotha-Altenbu ...

Prince Albert
, by 1841 the custom became even more widespread as wealthier middle-class families followed the fashion. In 1842 a newspaper advert for Christmas trees makes clear their smart cachet, German origins and association with children and gift-giving. An illustrated book, ''The Christmas Tree'', describing their use and origins in detail, was on sale in December 1844. On 2January 1846 Elizabeth Fielding (née Fox Strangways) wrote from
Lacock Abbey Lacock Abbey in the village of Lacock Lacock is a village and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in the county of Wiltshire, England, about 3 miles (5 km) south of the town of Chippenham, and about outside the Cotswolds a ...
to William Henry Fox-Talbot: ''"Constance is extremely busy preparing the
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...

Bohemia
n Xmas Tree. It is made from Caroline's description of those she saw in Germany"''. In 1847 Prince Albert wrote: "I must now seek in the children an echo of what Ernest is brotherand I were in the old time, of what we felt and thought; and their delight in the Christmas trees is not less than ours used to be". A boost to the trend was given in 1848 when ''The Illustrated London News'', in a report picked up by other papers, described the trees in
Windsor Castle Windsor Castle is a at in the English county of . It is strongly associated with the and succeeding , and embodies almost a millennium of . The original castle was built in the 11th century after the by . Since the time of (who re ...

Windsor Castle
in detail and showed the main tree, surrounded by the royal family, on its cover. In fewer than ten years their use in better-off homes was widespread. By 1856 a northern provincial newspaper contained an advert alluding casually to them, as well as reporting the accidental death of a woman whose dress caught fire as she lit the tapers on a Christmas tree. They had not yet spread down the social scale though, as a report from Berlin in 1858 contrasts the situation there where "Every family has its own" with that of Britain, where Christmas trees were still the preserve of the wealthy or the "romantic". Their use at public entertainments, charity bazaars and in hospitals made them increasingly familiar however, and in 1906 a charity was set up specifically to ensure even poor children in London slums "who had never seen a Christmas tree" would enjoy one that year. Anti-German sentiment after World WarI briefly reduced their popularity but the effect was short-lived, and by the mid-1920s the use of Christmas trees had spread to all classes. In 1933 a restriction on the importation of foreign trees led to the "rapid growth of a new industry" as the growing of Christmas trees within Britain became commercially viable due to the size of demand. By 2013 the number of trees grown in Britain for the Christmas market was approximately eight million and their display in homes, shops and public spaces a normal part of the Christmas season.


Georgia

Georgians The Georgians, or Kartvelians (; ka, ქართველები, tr, ), are a nation and indigenous Caucasian Caucasian may refer to: Anthropology *Anything from the Caucasus region **Peoples of the Caucasus, humans from the Caucasus re ...

Georgians
have their own traditional Christmas tree called , made from dried up
hazelnut The hazelnut is the fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. ...

hazelnut
or
walnut A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...

walnut
branches that are shaped to form a small coniferous tree. These pale-colored ornaments differ in height from to . Chichilakis are most common in the
Guria Guria ( ka, გურია) is a region (''mkhare'') in Georgia (country), Georgia, in the western part of the country, bordered by the eastern end of the Black Sea. The region has a population of 113,000 (2016), with Ozurgeti as the regional ca ...

Guria
and
Samegrelo Mingrelia ( ka, სამეგრელო ''Samegrelo''; xmf, სამარგალო ''Samargalo'') is a historic province in the western part of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქარ ...

Samegrelo
regions of Georgia near the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
, but they can also be found in some stores around the capital of
Tbilisi Tbilisi ( ; ka, თბილისი ), in some languages still known by its pre-1936 name Tiflis ( ), is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters ...

Tbilisi
. Georgians believe that Chichilaki resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, because
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
commemorates St. Basil on 1January.


The Bahamas

The earliest reference of Christmas trees being used in
The Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people The Lucayan () people were the original resid ...
dates to January 1864 and is associated with the Anglican Sunday Schools in Nassau, New Providence: "After prayers and a sermon from the Rev. R. Swann, the teachers and children of St. Agnes', accompanied by those of St. Mary's, marched to the Parsonage of Rev. J. H. Fisher, in front of which a large Christmas tree had been planted for their gratification. The delighted little ones formed a circle around it singing "Come follow me to the Christmas tree"." The gifts decorated the trees as ornaments and the children were given tickets with numbers that matched the gifts. This appears to be the typical way of decorating the trees in the 1860s Bahamas. In the Christmas of 1864, there was a Christmas tree put up in the Ladies Saloon in the Royal Victoria Hotel for the respectable children of the neighbourhood. The tree was ornamented with gifts for the children who formed a circle about it and sung the song "Oats and Beans". The gifts were later given to the children in the name of Santa Claus.


North America

The tradition was introduced to
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
in the winter of 1781 by Hessian soldiers stationed in the Province of Québec (1763–1791) to garrison the colony against American attack. General
Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach (3 June 1738 in Lauterbach/Hesse – 6 January 1800 in Braunschweig) was a German officer who served in the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) was a global conflict ...

Friedrich Adolf Riedesel
and his wife, the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party for the officers at Sorel, Quebec, delighting their guests with a fir tree decorated with candles and fruits. The Christmas tree became very common in the United States of America in the early nineteenth century. The first image of a Christmas tree was published in 1836 as the frontispiece to ''The Stranger's Gift'' by Hermann Bokum. The first mention of the Christmas tree in American literature was in a story in the 1836 edition of ''The Token and Atlantic Souvenir'', titled "New Year's Day", by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, where she tells the story of a German maid decorating her mistress's tree. Also, a woodcut of the British royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in ''
The Illustrated London News ''The Illustrated London News'' appeared first on Saturday 14 May 1842, as the world's first illustrated An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print a ...
'' December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in ''
Godey's Lady's Book ''Godey's Lady's Book'', alternatively known as ''Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book'', was an American women's magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication which is printing, printed in Coated paper, gloss-coated and Pa ...
''. ''Godey's'' copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene. The republished ''Godey's'' image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree". Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than ''Godey's Lady's Book''". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become even more common in America. Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree:
Windsor Locks, Connecticut Windsor Locks is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin ...
, claims that a Hessian soldier put up a Christmas tree in 1777 while imprisoned at the Noden-Reed House, while the "First Christmas Tree in America" is also claimed by
Easton, Pennsylvania Easton is a city in and the county seat of Northampton County, Pennsylvania, United States. The city's population was 26,800 as of the 2010 census. Easton is located at the confluence of the Delaware River and the Lehigh River, roughly north of ...
, where German settlers purportedly erected a Christmas tree in 1816. In his diary, Matthew Zahm of
Lancaster, Pennsylvania Lancaster, ( ; Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Lengeschder'') also known as the Red Rose City is a city in South Central Pennsylvania, that serves as the county seat, seat of Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, L ...
, recorded the use of a Christmas tree in 1821, leading Lancaster to also lay claim to the first Christmas tree in America. Other accounts credit
Charles Follen Charles (Karl) Theodor Christian Friedrich Follen (September 6, 1796 – January 13, 1840) was a Germans, German poet and patriot, who later moved to the United States and became the first professor of German language, German at Harvard University, ...
, a German immigrant to Boston, for being the first to introduce to America the custom of decorating a Christmas tree. August Imgard, a German immigrant living in
Wooster, Ohio Wooster ( ) is a city in the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due t ...
, is said to be the first to popularize the practice of decorating a tree with
candy cane A candy cane is a cane-shaped stick candy often associated with Christmastide Christmastide (also known as Christmastime or the Christmas season) is a season of the liturgical year in most Christianity, Christian churches. In some Christian de ...

candy cane
s. In 1847, Imgard cut a blue spruce tree from a woods outside town, had the Wooster village tinsmith construct a star, and placed the tree in his house, decorating it with paper ornaments, gilded nuts and . German immigrant Charles Minnigerode accepted a position as a professor of humanities at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842, where he taught Latin and Greek. Entering into the social life of the Virginia Tidewater, Minnigerode introduced the German custom of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas at the home of law professor St. George Tucker, thereby becoming another of many influences that prompted Americans to adopt the practice at about that time. An 1853 article on Christmas customs in Pennsylvania defines them as mostly "German in origin", including the Christmas tree, which is "planted in a flower pot filled with earth, and its branches are covered with presents, chiefly of confectionary, for the younger members of the family." The article distinguishes between customs in different states however, claiming that in New England generally "Christmas is not much celebrated", whereas in Pennsylvania and New York it is. When Edward H. Johnson was vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, a predecessor of Con Edison, he created the first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree at his home in New York City in 1882. Johnson became the "Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights". The lyrics sung in the United States to the German tune begin "OChristmas tree...", giving rise to the mistaken idea that the German language, German word (fir tree) means "Christmas tree", the German word for which is instead . File:The Christmas Tree - Godey's Lady's Book, December 1850.jpg, Copy of an 1848 engraving of the British royal family with their tree, modified and widely published in American magazine ''
Godey's Lady's Book ''Godey's Lady's Book'', alternatively known as ''Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book'', was an American women's magazine A magazine is a periodical literature, periodical publication which is printing, printed in Coated paper, gloss-coated and Pa ...
'', 1850. File:1836-print-of-american-christmas-tree.jpg, First published image of a Christmas tree, frontispiece to Hermann Bokum's 1836 ''The Stranger's Gift'' File:The Christmas tree (Boston Public Library).jpg, ''The Christmas tree'' by Winslow Homer, 1858 File:Gezin bij de kerstboom.jpg, Christmas in the Netherlands, c. 1899 File:1870 ChristmasTree byEhninger HarpersBazaar.jpeg, Illustration for ''Harper's Bazaar'', published 1January 1870 File:Julekort, 1880.jpg, Christmas tree depicted as Christmas card by Louis Prang, Prang & Co. (Boston) 1880 File:Komissarzhevskaya Nora.jpg, Vera Komissarzhevskaya as Nora in Henrik Ibsen, Ibsen's ''A Doll's House'' ( 1904). Photo by Elena Mrozovskaya. File:Lodovico and Maria Angelica Calderara 12800u original.jpg, An Italian-American family on Christmas, 1924


1935 to present

Under the state atheism of the Soviet Union, the Christmas tree along with the entire celebration of the Christian holiday, was banned in that country after the October Revolution but then the government introduced a ''New-year spruce'' (, ) in 1935 for the New Year holiday. It became a fully secular icon of the New Year holiday, for example, the crowning star was regarded not as a symbol of Bethlehem Star, but as the Red star. Decorations, such as figurines of airplanes, bicycles, space rockets, cosmonauts, and characters of Russian fairy tales, were produced. This tradition persists after the fall of the USSR, with the Novy God, New Year holiday outweighing the Christmas (7 January) for a wide majority of Russian people. The TV special ''A Charlie Brown Christmas'' (1965) was influential on the pop culture surrounding the Christmas tree. Aluminum Christmas trees were popular during the early 1960s in the US. They were satirized in the Charlie Brown show and came to be seen as symbolizing the commercialization of Christmas. The term ''Charlie Brown Christmas tree'', describing any poor-looking or malformed little tree, also derives from the 1965 TV special, based on the appearance of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. File:xmas1951.jpg, A Christmas tree from 1951, in a home in New York state File:Christmas tree with presents - 2015.JPG, Christmas tree with presents File:Governor's Living Room.jpg, Christmas Tree in the cozy room at the Wisconsin Governor's mansion. File:Елочное украшение "Космонавт" 1960е.JPG, A Soviet-era (1960s) New Year tree decoration depicting a cosmonaut File:005 Weihnachtsaltar und Krippe in der Sanoker Franziskanerkirche, 2013.jpg, Christmas Trees in church File:Chrismon tree stalbans oviedo fl.jpg, A #Chrismon tree, chrismon tree (St. Alban's Anglican Cathedral, Oviedo, Florida)


Public Christmas trees

Since the early 20th century, it has become common in many cities, towns, and department stores to put up public Christmas trees outdoors, such as the Macy's Great Tree in Atlanta (since 1948), the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City, and the large Christmas tree at Victoria Square, Adelaide, Victoria Square in Adelaide. The use of fire retardant allows many indoor public areas to place real trees and be compliant with code. Licensed applicants of fire retardant solution spray the tree, tag the tree, and provide a certificate for inspection. Real trees are popular with high end visual merchandising displays around the world. Leading global retailers such as Apple (company), Apple often place real trees in their window displays. In 2009, Apple placed two Fraser fir trees in every one of Apple Store, its retail establishments. The United States' National Christmas Tree (United States), National Christmas Tree has been lit each year since 1923 on the South Lawn of the White House, becoming part of what evolved into a major holiday event at the White House. President Jimmy Carter lit only the crowning star atop the tree in 1979 in honor of the Americans being Iran hostage crisis, held hostage in Iran. The same was true in 1980, except the tree was fully lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been in captivity. During most of the 1970s and 1980s, the largest decorated Christmas tree in the world was put up every year on the property of the ''National Enquirer'' in Lantana, Florida. This tradition grew into one of the most spectacular and celebrated events in the history of southern Florida, but was discontinued on the death of the paper's founder in the late 1980s. In some cities, a charity event called the Festival of Trees is organized, in which multiple trees are decorated and displayed. The giving of Christmas trees has also often been associated with the end of hostilities. After the signing of the Armistice with Germany, Armistice in 1918 the city of Manchester sent a tree, and £500 to buy chocolate and cakes, for the children of the much-bombarded town of Lille in northern France. In some cases the trees represent special commemorative gifts, such as in Trafalgar Square in London, where the City of Oslo, Norway presents a tree to the people of London as a token of appreciation for the British support of Norwegian resistance during the World War II, Second World War; in Boston, where the tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia, in thanks for rapid deployment of supplies and rescuers to the 1917 Halifax Explosion, ammunition ship explosion that leveled the city of Halifax (former city), Halifax; and in Newcastle upon Tyne, where the main civic Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, in thanks for the part played by soldiers from Newcastle in liberating Bergen from Nazism, Nazi occupation. Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship between Norway and the US and as an expression of gratitude from Norway for the help received from the US during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. File:Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo to Milan in 2019.jpg, Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo, Milan, Piazza del Duomo to Milan in 2019. File:Vatican Christmas Tree.jpg, Christmas tree in
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatica ...

Vatican City
, 2007 File:Piazza Portanova Natale 2008.jpg, Christmas tree in Salerno old town, Italy, 2008. File:Trafalgar Square Christmas tree9.jpg, Trafalgar Square Christmas tree File:New Year Tree on the Minin and Pozharsky Square 04.jpg, Christmas tree on Minin and Pozharsky Square, 2018. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia File:Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center IV.jpg, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree File:Christmas tree and Metropolitan Cathedral at Mexico's City zócalo.jpg, Christmas tree and Metropolitan Cathedral at Mexico's City zócalo File:LEDs on a big Christmas Tree 4572.jpg, upA large Christmas tree front of the Turku Cathedral in Turku (Finland), 2009 File:Weihnachtsbaum Römerberg.jpg, Christmas tree on the Römerberg (Frankfurt), Römerberg in Frankfurt (2008) File:Christmas Lisbon 2005 b.JPG, in Lisbon (2005), at the tallest Christmas tree in Europe. File:2010 Boston Halifax Christmas tree on Boston Common USA 5273771973.jpg, Boston Christmas Tree, Boston's Christmas Tree. File:Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz (Madrid) 07.jpg, An in Madrid (2011) File:Choinka plac Zamkowy 2011.jpg, Christmas tree in Warsaw File:Stockholm - NK.jpg, Christmas tree in Stockholm at the Nordiska Kompaniet, NK department store File:HK TST night Harbour City front entrance indoor stairs interior Xmas trees Nov-2013.JPG, Christmas trees in Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Hong Kong File:Christmas tree in Lugano (2018).jpg, Christmas tree in Lugano (2018) File:Vilnius Christmas Tree.jpg, Christmas tree in Vilnius old town, Lithuania, 2017.


Customs and traditions


Setting up and taking down

Both setting up and taking down a Christmas tree are associated with specific dates; liturgically, this is done through the hanging of the greens ceremony. In many areas, it has become customary to set up one's Christmas tree on Advent Sunday, the first day of the Advent season. Traditionally, however, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until the evening of
Christmas Eve Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration amo ...

Christmas Eve
(24 December), the end of the Advent season and the start of the twelve days of Christmas, twelve days of Christmastide. It is customary for Christians in many localities to remove their Christmas decorations on the last day of the twelve days of Christmastide that falls on 5 January—Twelfth Night (holiday), Epiphany Eve (Twelfth Night), although those in other Christian state, Christian countries remove them on
Candlemas Candlemas (also spelled Candlemass), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentatio ...
, the conclusion of the extended Christmas-Epiphany season (Epiphanytide). According to the first tradition, those who fail to remember to remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve must leave them untouched until Candlemas, the second opportunity to remove them; failure to observe this custom is considered inauspicious.


Decorations

Christmas ornaments are decorations (usually made of glass, metal, wood, or ceramics) that are used to decorate a Christmas tree. The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha,
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
, and also garlands of glass beads and tin figures that could be hung on trees. The popularity of these decoration fueled the production of glass figures made by highly skilled artisans with clay molds. Tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used as Christmas tree decorations. Silvered saran (plastic), saran-based tinsel was introduced later. Delicate mold-blown and painted colored glass Christmas ornaments were a specialty of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest, especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Baubles are another common decoration, consisting of small hollow glass or plastic spheres coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide coloration. Lighting with electric lights (Christmas lights or, in the United Kingdom, fairy lights) is commonly done. A tree-topper, sometimes an angel but more frequently a star, completes the decoration. In the late 1800s, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. In the 1940s and 1950s, popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s, flocking (texture), flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow. File:Christmas tree bauble.jpg, Golden glass ball/bauble File:A baseball-shaped snowman decoration.jpg, Snowman/baseball novelty ornament File:Christmas Tree Bear Decoration.png, Toy bear decoration File:Christmas baubles 08 - 01.JPG, Egg shaped glass ornament File:Christmas baubles 08 - 12.JPG, Cloth cotton batting ornament File:2006 Blue Room Christmas tree - closeup of ornamentation.jpg, Imitation tree snow File:Christmas tree decorations, Brisbane, 2020, 02.jpg, Straw ornaments File:Crochet Xmas ornaments.jpg, Crochet ornaments File:Welsh Christmas (31768276526).jpg, Dragon cotton batting ornament File:Bombki ze wstazek.jpg, Polish ''bombki'' baubles made with the kanzashi method File:Ornament, Christmas Tree (USA), 1850–99 (CH 18409303).jpg, Swaddled babies,
1850–1899 File:Nostalgischer Weihnachtsbaumschmuck Pappmaché Weihnachtsmann (cropped).jpg, Paper maché ornament File:Weihnachten 2020 Christbaumschmuck 10.jpg, Faceted indented glass ornament File:Weihnachten 2020 Christbaumschmuck 28.jpg, Ceramic ornament File:Weihnachten 2020 Christbaumschmuck 22.jpg, :c:Gablonz Christmas tree decoration, Gablonz ornament File:Glass icicle ornaments - clear and blue.jpg, Glass icicle ornaments


Production

Each year, 33 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced in America, and 50 to 60 million are produced in Europe. In 1998, there were about 15,000 growers in America (a third of them "choose and cut" farms). In that same year, it was estimated that Americans spent $1.5billion on Christmas trees. By 2016 that had climbed to $2.04billion for natural trees and a further $1.86billion for artificial trees. In Europe, 75 million trees worth €2.4billion ($3.2 billion) are harvested annually.


Consumer cost

The average cost of a live cut tree in the United States was $64 in 2015 and this rose to $73 in 2017. The price was expected to hold steady for the next year.


Natural trees

The most commonly used species are
fir Firs (''Abies'') are a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including ...

fir
(''Abies''), which have the benefit of not shedding their needles when they dry out, as well as retaining good foliage color and scent; but species in other genus, genera are also used. In northern Europe most commonly used are: * Picea abies, Norway spruce ''Picea abies'' (the original tree, generally the cheapest) * Abies alba, Silver fir ''Abies alba'' * Abies nordmanniana, Nordmann fir ''Abies nordmanniana'' * Noble fir ''Abies procera'' * Picea omorika, Serbian spruce ''Picea omorika'' * Scots pine ''Pinus sylvestris'' * Stone pine ''Pinus pinea'' (as small table-top trees) * Swiss pine ''Pinus cembra'' In
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
, Central America, South America and Australia most commonly used are: * Douglas fir ''Pseudotsuga menziesii'' * Abies balsamea, Balsam fir ''Abies balsamea'' * Fraser Fir ''Abies fraseri'' * Abies grandis, Grand fir ''Abies grandis'' * Abies guatemalensis, Guatemalan fir ''Abies guatemalensis'' * Noble fir ''Abies procera'' * Abies nordmanniana, Nordmann fir ''Abies nordmanniana'' * Abies magnifica, Red fir ''Abies magnifica'' * Abies concolor, White fir ''Abies concolor'' * Colorado Pinyon, Pinyon pine ''Pinus edulis'' * Jeffrey pine ''Pinus jeffreyi'' * Scots pine ''Pinus sylvestris'' * Stone pine ''Pinus pinea'' (as small table-top trees) * Araucaria heterophylla, Norfolk Island pine ''Araucaria heterophylla'' *Araucaria angustifolia, Paraná pine ''Araucaria angustifolia'' (when young, resembles a Pine, Pine tree) Several other species are used to a lesser extent. Less-traditional conifers are sometimes used, such as Sequoiadendron giganteum, giant sequoia, Leyland cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa, Monterey cypress, and Juniperus virginiana, eastern juniper. Various types of
spruce A spruce is a tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including ...

spruce
tree are also used for Christmas trees (including the Picea pungens, blue spruce and, less commonly, the Picea glauca, white spruce); but spruces begin to lose their needles rapidly upon being cut, and spruce needles are often sharp, making decorating uncomfortable. Pinus virginiana, Virginia pine is still available on some tree farms in the southeastern United States; however, its winter color is faded. The long-needled Pinus strobus, eastern white pine is also used there, though it is an unpopular Christmas tree in most parts of the country, owing also to its faded winter coloration and limp branches, making decorating difficult with all but the lightest ornaments. Norfolk Island pine is sometimes used, particularly in Oceania, and in Australia, some species of the genera ''Casuarina'' and ''Allocasuarina'' are also occasionally used as Christmas trees. But, by far, the most common tree is the Pinus radiata Pinus radiata, Monterey pine. ''Adenanthos sericeus'' or Albany woolly bush is commonly sold in southern Australia as a potted living Christmas tree. Tsuga, Hemlock species are generally considered unsuitable as Christmas trees due to their poor needle retention and inability to support the weight of lights and ornaments. Some trees, frequently referred to as "living Christmas trees", are sold live with roots and soil, often from a plant nursery, to be stored at nurseries in planters or planted later outdoors and enjoyed (and often decorated) for years or decades. Others are produced in a container and sometimes as topiary for a porch or patio. However, when done improperly, the combination of root loss caused by digging, and the indoor environment of high temperature and low humidity is very detrimental to the tree's health; additionally, the warmth of an indoor climate will bring the tree out of its natural winter dormancy, leaving it little protection when put back outside into a cold outdoor climate. Often Christmas trees are a large attraction for living animals, including mice and spiders. Thus, the survival rate of these trees is low. However, when done properly, replanting provides higher survival rates. European tradition prefers the open aspect of naturally grown, unsheared trees, while in North America (outside western areas where trees are often wild-harvested on public lands) there is a preference for close-sheared trees with denser foliage, but less space to hang decorations. In the past, Christmas trees were often harvested from wild forests, but now almost all are commercially grown on tree farms. Almost all Christmas trees in the United States are grown on Christmas tree farms where they are cut after about ten years of growth and new trees planted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture's agriculture census for 2007, 21,537 farms were producing conifers for the cut Christmas tree market in America, were planted in Christmas trees. The life cycle of a Christmas tree from the seed to a tree takes, depending on species and treatment in cultivation, between eight and twelve years. First, the seed is extracted from cones harvested from older trees. These seeds are then usually grown in nurseries and then sold to Christmas tree farms at an age of three to four years. The remaining development of the tree greatly depends on the climate, soil quality, as well as the cultivation and how the trees are tended by the Christmas tree farmer.


Artificial trees

The first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, though earlier examples exist. These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green, as one response by Germans to continued deforestation. Feather Christmas trees ranged widely in size, from a small tree to a large tree sold in department stores during the 1920s. Often, the tree branches were tipped with artificial red berries which acted as candlestick, candle holders. Over the years, other styles of artificial Christmas trees have evolved and become popular. In 1930, the U.S.-based Addis Brush Company created the first artificial Christmas tree made from brush bristles. Another type of artificial tree is the aluminum Christmas tree, first manufactured in Chicago in 1958, and later in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where the majority of the trees were produced. Most modern artificial Christmas trees are made from plastic recycled from used packaging materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Approximately 10% of artificial Christmas trees are using virgin suspension PVC resin; despite being plastic most artificial trees are not recyclable or biodegradable. Other trends have developed in the early 2000s as well. Optical fiber Christmas trees come in two major varieties; one resembles a traditional Christmas tree. One Dallas-based company offers "holographic mylar" trees in many hues. Tree-shaped objects made from such materials as cardboard, glass, ceramic or other materials can be found in use as tabletop decorations. Upside-down artificial Christmas trees became popular for a short time and were originally introduced as a marketing gimmick; they allowed consumers to get closer to ornaments for sale in retail stores and opened up floor space for more products. Artificial trees became increasingly popular during the late 20th century. Users of artificial Christmas trees assert that they are more convenient, and, because they are reusable, much cheaper than their natural alternative. They are also considered much safer as natural trees can be a significant fire hazard. Between 2001 and 2007 artificial Christmas tree sales in the U.S. jumped from 7.3 million to 17.4 million. Currently it is estimated that around 58% of Christmas trees used in the United States are artificial while numbers in the United Kingdom are indicated to be around 66%. File:Fiber-optic Christmas tree.jpg, A tree with fibre optic lights File:White christmas tree.jpg, White Christmas tree File:Arbol Navidad 02.jpg, Spanish artificial Christmas tree File:The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis - Aluminum Christmas tree.jpg, An artificial Aluminum Christmas tree File:Y Christmas Tree 2.jpg, Artificial tree File:Aluminum Christmas tree2.jpg, An aluminum Christmas tree


Environmental issues

The debate about the environmental impact of artificial trees is ongoing. Generally, natural tree growers contend that artificial trees are more environmentally harmful than their natural counterparts. However, trade groups such as the American Christmas Tree Association, continue to refute that artificial trees are more harmful to the environment, and maintain that the PVC used in Christmas trees has excellent recyclable properties. Live trees are typically grown as a crop and replanted in rotation after cutting, often providing suitable habitat for wildlife. Alternately, live trees can be donated to livestock farmers who find that such trees uncontaminated by chemical additives are excellent fodder. In some cases management of Christmas tree crops can result in poor habitat since it sometimes involves heavy input of pesticides. Concerns have been raised about people cutting down old and rare conifers, such as the ''Keteleeria evelyniana'' and ''Abies fraseri'', for Christmas trees. Real or cut trees are used only for a short time, but can be recycled and used as mulch, wildlife habitat, or used to prevent erosion. Real trees are carbon-neutral, they emit no more carbon dioxide by being cut down and disposed of than they absorb while growing. However, emissions can occur from farming activities and transportation. An independent life-cycle assessment study, conducted by a firm of experts in sustainable development, states that a natural tree will generate of greenhouse gases every year (based on purchasing from home) whereas the artificial tree will produce over its lifetime. Some people use living Christmas or potted trees for several seasons, providing a longer life cycle for each tree. Living Christmas trees can be purchased or rented from local market growers. Rentals are picked up after the holidays, while purchased trees can be planted by the owner after use or donated to local tree adoption or urban reforestation services. Smaller and younger trees may be replanted after each season, with the following year running up to the next Christmas allowing the tree to carry out further growth. Most artificial trees are made of recycled PVC rigid sheets using tin stabilizer in the recent years. In the past, lead was often used as a stabilizer in PVC, but is now banned by Chinese laws. The use of lead stabilizer in Chinese imported trees has been an issue of concern among politicians and scientists over recent years. A 2004 study found that while in general artificial trees pose little health risk from lead poisoning, lead contamination, there do exist "worst-case scenarios" where major health risks to young children exist.. Retrieved 18 December 2012. A 2008 United States Environmental Protection Agency report found that as the PVC in artificial Christmas trees aged it began to degrade.. Retrieved 18 December 2012. The report determined that of the fifty million artificial trees in the United States approximately twenty million were nine or more years old, the point where dangerous lead contamination levels are reached. A professional study on the life-cycle assessment of both real and artificial Christmas trees revealed that one must use an artificial Christmas tree at least twenty years to leave an environmental footprint as small as the natural Christmas tree.


Religious issues

The earliest legend of the origin of a fir tree becoming a Christian symbol dates back to 723 AD, involving
Saint Boniface Boniface ( la, Bonifatius; 675 – 5 June 754), born in the Crediton Crediton is a town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Mid Devon district of Devon in England. It stands on the A377 road, A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road ...
as he was evangelism, evangelizing Germany. It is said that at a pagan gathering in Geismar where a group of people dancing under a decorated oak tree were about to sacrifice a baby in the name of Thor, Saint Boniface took an axe and called on the name of Jesus. In one swipe, he managed to take down the entire oak tree, to the crowd's astonishment. Behind the fallen tree was a baby fir tree. Boniface said, "let this tree be the symbol of the true God, its leaves are ever green and will not die." The tree's needles pointed to heaven and it was shaped triangularly to represent the Holy Trinity. The Christmas tree was first recorded to be used by German Lutherans in the 16th century, with records indicating that a Christmas tree was placed in the Strasbourg Cathedral, Cathedral of Strasbourg in 1539, under the leadership of the Protestant Reformers, Protestant Reformer, Martin Bucer. In the United States, these "German Lutherans brought the decorated Christmas tree with them; the Moravian Church, Moravians put lighted candles on those trees." When Christmas decorations, decorating the Christmas tree, many individuals place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the
Star of Bethlehem The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas Star, appears in the nativity of Jesus, nativity story of the Gospel of Matthew where "wise men from the East" (biblical Magi, Magi) are inspired by the star to travel to Jerusalem. There, they meet King Herod ...

Star of Bethlehem
, a fact recorded by ''The School Journal'' in 1897. Professor David Albert Jones of the University of Oxford writes that in the 19th century, it became popular for people to also use an angel to top the Christmas tree in order to symbolize the angels mentioned in the accounts of the Nativity of Jesus. Under the Marxist-Leninist atheism, Marxist-Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union, after its foundation in 1917, Christmas celebrations—along with other religious holidays—were prohibited as a result of the Soviet Anti-religious campaign during the Russian Civil War, anti-religious campaign. The League of Militant Atheists encouraged school pupils to campaign against Christmas traditions, among them being the Christmas tree, as well as other Christian holidays, including Easter; the League established an anti-religious holiday to be the 31st of each month as a replacement. With the Christmas tree being prohibited in accordance with Soviet anti-religious legislation, people supplanted the former Christmas custom with New Year's trees. In 1935, the tree was brought back as New Year tree and became a secular, not a religious holiday. Pope John Paul II introduced the Christmas tree custom to the Vatican in 1982. Although at first disapproved of by some as out of place at the centre of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Christmas Tree has become an integral part of the Vatican Christmas celebrations, and in 2005 Pope Benedict XVI spoke of it as part of the normal Christmas decorations in Catholic homes. In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the "tree of life", an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. In the previous year he said: "Beside the crib, the Christmas tree, with its twinkling lights, reminds us that with the birth of Jesus the tree of life has blossomed anew in the desert of humanity. The crib and the tree: precious symbols, which hand down in time the true meaning of Christmas." The Catholic Church's official ''Book of Blessings'' has a service for the blessing of the Christmas tree in a home. The Episcopal Church (United States), Episcopal Church in ''The Anglican Family Prayer Book'', which has the imprimatur of The Rt. Rev. Catherine S. Roskam of the Anglican Communion, has long had a ritual titled ''Blessing of a Christmas Tree'', as well as ''Blessing of a Crèche'', for use in the church and the home. Chrismon trees, which find their origin in the Lutheranism, Lutheran Christian tradition though now used in many Christian denominations such as the Catholic Church and Methodist Church, are used to decorate churches during the liturgical season of Advent; during the period of Christmastide, Christian churches display the traditional Christmas tree in their sanctuaries. In 2005, the city of Boston renamed the spruce tree used to decorate the Boston Common a "Holiday Tree" rather than a "Christmas Tree". The name change was reversed after the city was threatened with several lawsuits.


See also


References


External links

* {{Authority control Christmas in Germany Christmas trees, Christmas decorations Holidays