History of the Christmas Tree & Traditions That Followed

Woman Placing Ornament on Christmas Tree

It’s that time of year again when your yard is probably looking just white and brown. In the winter season, greenery keeps going thanks to coniferous and evergreen trees. As professional tree arborists, we know just the kind of trees that are being decorated and displayed for the holidays. What many don’t know, is why we started doing that in the first place.

The Origins

While the holidays often hold a religious and loving importance to people, evergreen plants have always represented health, life, and even held spiritual importance. Plants alive in winter were also hopeful reminders that crops and warmer weather were still around the corner.

Every ancient culture would hang garlands in winter, especially to celebrate the solstice. Different religions used trees or wooden structures with pine branches attached. It wasn’t just conifers and evergreens. The practice of bringing trees into your home for winter started with fruit trees that you wanted to keep year-round like cherry trees.

It’s hard to say who started to bring in pines that we know as Christmas trees today. We do know that Germany is credited to be the first country to use candles and wires. They would hang edible decorations like cookies and apples, too!

The Start of Official Christmas Trees

Pennsylvania, full of healthy forests at every mile, is supposedly the birth place of America’s Christmas tree tradition thanks to Germanic settlers in the 1800’s. Once the tree tradition really took off in Great Britain and America, it wasn’t stopping.

Different types of Spruces and Firs are being grown just for holiday decorating every year. Our personal favorite is the classic Douglas Fir for their softer needles and blue-green color. It became popular in the 1920’s.

When electricity became mainstream, string lights were almost immediately made for holiday decorating. Not only was it less of a fire risk, but colored glass made it all the more magical to look at. Germany again is credited with inventing tinsel from actual silver beaten into thin strips. Now decorations come in hundreds of colors, themes, and materials.

The first replacements for real trees during the holidays started with bird feathers. While fake trees are used all the time, nothing beats the aroma and look of an evergreen in your home for the holidays. From everyone at Paul Bunyan, Inc., we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

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