Christmas trees have their origins in Germany

Where does the tradition of the Christmas tree come from?

Nowadays it is natural to put up a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and to decorate it solemnly. It creates a cozy atmosphere, festive light and serves as a place to store Christmas presents. But where does this tradition come from and what does it mean exactly?

The myth of the Christmas tree: where does the tradition come from?

There are many myths about the history of the Christmas tree. The exact origin of the tradition cannot be clearly established. In many cultures, evergreen plants such as fir and mistletoe had a special meaning. At the turn of the year they were set up to keep out the forces of nature and evil spirits.

Another meaning lies in the former belief that the Christmas tree decorated with burning candles was for the dead. The lights were meant to guide the deceased back to the family who are visiting that evening.

For the church, on the other hand, the burning candles represented the coming of Christ. Therefore, the tree is still associated with the birth of Jesus today.

The decorated Christmas tree

The earliest evidence of the Christmas tree is an engraving from 1509. The artist Lucas Cranach shows a Christmas tree decorated with lights and stars, according to "Radio Bremen". In the following years the tradition spread in the guilds and associations where evergreen trees were erected.

In the 17th century, people began to put decorated Christmas trees in living spaces. This is proven by a record from Alsace from 1605. The Christmas trees were considered to be the beacon of hope for new life and were then decorated with nuts, apples and sweets.

The Christmas tree conquers the world

The tradition spread from Alsace to Germany in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the Christmas tree became increasingly popular around the world. With the rise of the bourgeoisie, the Christmas festival and with it the decorated tree experienced a real boom, explains the "Welt" in its online edition.

The Christmas tree acted as a substitute for religious content for many Christian and Jewish families. Therefore the Catholic Church resisted this "pagan" custom for a long time. It was not until 1982 that the first Christmas tree was put up on St. Peter's Square in Rome.

From the nursery to the living room

The Christmas tree is still an integral part of Christmas Eve. In 2014 almost 30 million trees were sold in Germany. Given this number, it becomes clear that cutting a Christmas tree in the woods is now just a romantic notion.

Nowadays firs and spruces grow on plantations. The seeds for the popular Nordmann fir come from the Caucasus. The plants are then grown in special tree nurseries in Germany. The Christmas trees are only ready for sale after ten years of intensive care.