Many people celebrate the holiday, but few know the history of why people have Christmas trees as part of the décor. Having trees as part of Christmas did not begin as an American custom. The practice of setting up a Christmas tree first began as early as the 1500s as a German custom but the idea wasn’t widely accepted in the beginning.
Many areas of Germany didn’t start celebrating the Christmas holidays with a tree until the later part of the 1800s. Overseas, by the first of the 1900s, two classes of people – the wealthy and royalty- started putting up Christmas trees and from there, the tradition was born.
When the first wave of people left their country and came and settled in the New World, many brought with them the tradition of putting up evergreens inside their home and decorating small trees outside the home with whatever treasures nature provided.
Here in America however, the Christmas tree was much slower to catch on. Some people thought the Christmas tree was a symbol associated with Christians, but Christians were not open to the idea of having a tree in the midst of their holiday celebration.
It was regarded with suspicion and religious people believed the tree to be a symbol of paganism even though that belief was incorrect. Because of that belief, many Christians refused to have anything to do with Christmas trees. But slowly, the custom caught on.
Christmas trees first began to be marketed in the United States in the mid 1800s and were also accepted into the White House by the then residing President. Christmas trees were set up in public displays, trimmed with decorations and people were awed by the beauty. Toward the latter part of the 1800s a well known retail store saw the need for artificial trees and began selling them to customers.
In some countries, Winter Solstice heralded the time to set up the Christmas tree-close to the arrival of Christmas day. The first week of January was slated as time to remove the tree and all its trimmings.
Today, the Christmas tree is customarily set up shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday but some families set it up earlier. Taking down the tree is generally still done the first week of January but some families wait until after New Years Day.
This is due to the old wives tale that what you’re doing on January 1, you’ll do all year long. Since taking down the tree is hard work, folks believed that by taking it down then, that meant they would work hard all year long.
Whether the tree is put up after Thanksgiving or taken down after New Year’s Day, this is one custom that is loved and practiced by many. A Christmas tree can add a bright sparkle to your holidays, a well decorated, celebrated finishing touch.