The origin of the Christmas Tree

Posted On December 2, 2006

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The Christmas Tree, like most Christmas Traditions, has a number of different sources of origin.

In Germany during the dark ages the pagans used to perform sacrifices at the foot of a tree to Thor, the god of thunder. As Europe became more Christianized, many of the pagan customs were co-opted and made Christian. It is highly likely that the ritual pagan tree was combined with the Christian story of the Tree of Life from Genesis, as December 24th was often celebrated as Adam and Eve’s Day.

The city of Riga in Latvia claims to have the first documented use of a decorated evergreen tree in 1510. Legend goes that the tree was decorated with paper ornaments and was set on fire after a ceremony, similar to the Yule Log.

While there are documented cases of Christmas Trees being present in England as early as 1789, it was not until the late 1820s that they become common place. After Dickens’ publication of “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, which featured a Christmas Tree, their popularity exploded.

One of the earliest sightings of a Christmas Tree in America is in Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1747 when a “wooden pyramid of green brush wood” was decorated with candles.

Sources for the History of the Christmas Tree >