Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. Christmas comes from Christ-Mass, the Church service that celebrated the birth of Jesus.
Christmas festival seems to be like a fantasy world. Santa, jingles, Christmas carols, showy decorations and lights, bells, candles, chrismons, red and green Poinsettia flowers and beautiful wreaths, cribs and nativity play all appear to be a part of a fairy tale. This festival is very popular among kids.
Origin of Christmas Tree
Since ages, the Christmas festival is synonyms to Christmas tree. Christmas tree is the sign of everlasting life with God for Christians. But there isn’t just one kind of tree that’s used as a Christmas tree. Christmas trees come in many shapes, colours, and species these days. Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually, an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. Most Christmas trees are either FIRS (Abies), SPRUCES (Picea), DOUGLAS FIR (Pseudotsuga). or PINES (Pinus). All of these are conifers and have leaves called needles, and cones.
Christmas tree had its origins in Northern Europe, probably 1000 years ago. The first written record of a decorated Christmas Tree comes from Riga, Latvia in 1510. Men of the local merchants’ guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then set fire to it. The rose was used for many years and is considered to be a symbol for the Virgin Mary.
Earlier Christmas trees were different than the trees we have today. Evergreen plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Many years ago, Christmas Trees were hung upside down from the ceiling using chains (hung from chandeliers/ lighting hooks). People also used to put cherry or hawthorn plants (or a branch of a plant) into pots and brought inside so they would hopefully flower at Christmas time. Those who could not afford a real plant, they would make pyramids of woods and decorate them to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles. Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are also sometimes used to decorate homes.
Christmas Trees were first popularised the UK by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Prince Albert was German.
In India, instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated (or whatever tree people can find to decorate!). In New Zealand, a tree called the ‘Pohutakawa’ that has red flowers is decorated as a Christmas tree.
Legends associated with Christmas tree
1. The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house is the 16th-century, Protestant Christian preacher Martin Luther from Germany. One night before Christmas, while walking through the forest, Martin Luther was mesmerised by the beauty of stars shining in the moonlight being reflected upon trees. He went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles. Some people say this is the same tree as the ‘Riga’ tree, but it isn’t! The Riga tree originally took place a few decades earlier.
2. Another story says that St. Boniface of left his village at England and travelled to Germany to preach about Christianity. He met people in Germany who were worshipping Oaktree and making a young boy sacrifice to it. St. Boniface felt sorry for the boy, in a rage he cut down the Oak tree. Surprisingly, a young fir tree sprang up from the roots of the oak tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith and his followers decorated the tree with candles.
3. Yet, one another legend, from Germany, about how the Christmas Tree came into being:
Once upon a time, on a chilly Christmas ever a shabby little boy with shaggy hairs, knocked at the door of a forester. Forester took the boy inside, cleaned him, fed him and allowed the young boy to stay with them for the cold night. But, to the foresters surprise, the very next morning, Christmas Morning, the family were woken up by a choir of angels, and the poor little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. The Christ Child went into the front garden of the cottage and broke a branch off a Fir tree and gave it to the family as a present to say thank you for looking after him. So ever since then, people have remembered that night by bringing a Christmas Tree into their homes!
Decorations of Christmas tree
Artificial Christmas Trees really started becoming popular in the early 20th century, beautifully decorated with strings of light. Earlier times, in Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today.
At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw.
In England, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. Though quite unsafe, in many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees.
When decorating the Christmas tree, it is common to place a star at the top of the tree symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem, a fact recorded by The School Journal in 1897.
Tinsel is a spider cobweb-like hanged to Christmas tree. In parts of Germany, Poland, and Ukraine it’s meant to be good luck to find a spider or a spider’s web on your Christmas Tree, so people hang an artificial cobweb on their tree. Earlier, Tinsels were used to be made up of thin strips of beaten silver, after the plastic was invented, both the cost and weight of the Tinsel were reduced.