Monday, December 21, 2009

The Origin of the Christmas Tree and Times Past!

Late in Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through the snow covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio. But the custom spread slowly. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church.

The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens to New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

Christmas tree farms sprang up during the depression. Nurserymen couldn't sell their evergreens for landscaping, so they cut them for Christmas trees. Cultivated trees were preferred because they have a more symmetrical shape then wild ones. Today, six species account for about 90 percent of the nation's tree trade. Scotch pine ranks first, about 40 percent of the market, followed by the Douglas fir which accounts for about 35%.

Looking back and remembering the "Good Old Days" of Christmas, I have included a "Post Card Potpourri" that was found in the Decmember issue of Reminisce magazine. To see a larger picture of the postcard, just click on the picture as the postcards come from the first half of the last century. You will also notice that I chose not to follow and decided to place lights on my tree rather than candles!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I assume that the pictured Xmas tree is standing in your house. You seem to have disposed of the custome of using candles to light the tree. A good idea.

    Interesting post. TT