The history of the Christmas tree

Roter Weihnachtsbaum

A journey through time

It has been common practice for many centuries for people to ritually decorate trees to make a wish, or to see them as ornaments, or to hang branches because they are following a religious custom or tradition. Sometimes these are colorful ribbons around branches or twists of trunks, perhaps to give a sign of love, or a tree is decorated to anticipate the buds in spring and to comfort the eye with a little jewelry over the gray winter. Although trees are sometimes decorated with flags or ribbons in spring and summer, the custom of making trees colorful is more of a winter tradition. The lack of light and colors already motivated our ancestors to become creative. It has remained that way until today. As soon as the days become shorter, we increasingly seek the light of candles, and instead of flowers, suddenly various decoration can be found in house and garden. We begin to make it beautiful for ourselves because it is so uncomfortable outside. A part of the magic of the old days can still be found in every candle of today, and the holidays have remained, even though the winter solstice as a high date has changed into Christmas Eve, the feast of Christ.

No matter how far back in history we may think, people have always sought occasions to sit together and enjoy something together, especially in the cold season, when people used to need each other’s warmth, fire was a source of survival and stories, music and food offered variety at gatherings. There was much that was not clear to our ancestors. Fairy tales, sagas and fables were not only used for entertainment, but were a means to understand the world better or at all. If one was already sitting together, then it should of course be inviting. So, people began to decorate. On the one hand for a symbolic reason, on the other hand because decorated trees, bushes or rooms can be simply wonderful.

It is possible that very early on there was something like mutual inspiration or friendly competition as to who could decorate the more beautiful atmosphere. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be surprised.