For thousands of years the evergreen fir or what we call a Christmas tree, has adorned man kinds hearth and home. Pagan used branches to decorate their home during the long nights of the winter solstice. The Roman Empire decorated their temples with fir trees when celebrating Saturnalia, or the festival celebrating their most important God, Saturn. Christians later adopted the Christmas tree as a symbol of everlasting life with God.
When the tradition migrated to Northern Europe, probably around 1,000 years ago, trees were hung upside down from the ceiling. Other traditions in Europe included using cherry or hawthorn plants, potted and brought inside. If these were unavailable there are depictions of wood pyramids decorated with paper, apples and candles.
The concept of Christmas trees that we now know comes from 16th century Germany. It is said that preacher Martin Luther was walking through the forest and looked up at the stars shining through the evergreen branches. He proclaimed that it reminded him of Jesus who left the stars of Heaven to come to earth at Christmas.
This is just one of several legends of how the Christmas tree came into the home. We know for certain, early German trees were decorated with fruit, gingerbread and small glass ornaments. Before the angels topped the tree, a figure of the baby Jesus, sometimes laying in a manger, watched over the home.
It was over two hundred years before the tradition of the Christmas tree migrated to England in the 1830’s from German immigrants. The very fashionable Queen Victoria and her husband Albert popularized the tradition by setting up a large tree at Windsor Castle. Pictures were published in papers and magazines for the entire world to see.
The Christmas tree became popular in the United States soon after. In 1895, American, Ralph Morris, invented the first electric Christmas lights. A big thanks to Mr. Morris for making our Christmas brighter and safer!
The first Christmas tree farm probably appeared around the turn of the century, when 25,000 Norway spruce trees were planted in Trenton, New Jersey. The trees were sold seven years later for $1.00. V.W. McGillard pioneered an industry that is thriving today!