One of the Many Origins of Christmas
The Christmas tree is one of the most popular and cherished Christmas customs. Each year, 35-40 million live trees are purchased and decorated in the United States alone. in other countries, the number should be close to 20 million at least. There are several communities across the world, who just for the sheer love of the Christmas spirit and season love to decorate a tree for the season. But when, where, and how did this custom begin? What is the origin of the Christmas tree? What does it mean?
There have been many answers to these questions that have been offered. Some make no distinction between history and legend. Unfortunately, none of them give sources for their assertions about the Christmas tree (a problem with most web articles!). Given that dependable scholarly sources about the history of the Christmas tree are hard to come by, citation-less Christmas tree web pages are understandable.
What was the origin of the Christmas tree? As much as I would like to embrace as fact the oft- quoted story that Martin Luther was the first to set up a Christmas tree (or at least a lighted one), it's not confirmed that this is a true story or a mere legend. There are no evidences that support this. There is scholarly consensus, however, that the Christmas tree originated in Germany. Indeed, the earliest record of an evergreen tree being used and decorated (but without lights) for Christmas is 1521 in the German region of Alsace. Another useful description has been found among the notes of an unknown resident of Strasbourg in 1605, who writes that "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlors at Strasburg and hang thereon roses cut of many- colored paper, apples, wafers, gold-foil, sweets . . ." Some fifty years later (about 1650) the great Lutheran theologian Johann Dannhauer wrote in his The Milk of the Catechism that "the Christmas or fir tree, which people set up in their houses, hang with dolls and sweets, and afterwards shake and deflower. . . When did this custom come into being is not known, but rather considered as a child's bright imagination.
They began to be known as Christmas trees and we identified them as Christmas trees since a very long time. It is perhaps the conical shape that houses many goodies and stockings that it is more popular with children. That Santa would probably find the best stocking and the best list put up by kids is legend has to say. There are many who agree that had the Christmas tree not been conical, it would be wee bit difficult to decorate it too. Since most celebration in most festivals is all about color and merry-making, so it is with the Christmas event as well.
Several conclusions can be gleaned from these quotations. First, we are told some of the items with which the first Christmas trees were decorated: paper roses, apples, Communion wafers, gold, foil, sweets, and dolls. Second, even in 1650 a noted scholar like Dannhauer did not know the origin of Christmas trees. Third, not all Christians approved of these trees, even in the beginning. Fourth, the first Christmas trees, as far as we know, did not have lights. However, yea after year we notice that these are trees that bring in joy and peace to every house, as the spirit of Christmas holds true for everyone, so I guess the tree is synonymous with the occasion.