Posted on Dec 10, 2023 at 11:25 am by Matthew L
Perhaps you have already asked yourself the question: why celebrate Christmas with a tree that stands in the middle of the living room? Moreover, all illuminated and decorated with balls and garlands…
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The tradition of the tree, a long history
Christmas is approaching… Perhaps you have already obtained the essential Christmas tree, green and delicately scented. Others prefer an artificial tree, durable for many years.
Still, others deploy their imagination to create a more surprising wooden tree. Nevertheless, decorating the tree is meant to be a festive moment.
The idea may seem absurd and especially far from the Christian celebration, corresponding to the birth of Christ.
In fact, the Christmas tree has pagan origins.
Indeed, as an evergreen tree, among the Celts, it has always symbolized life, light, the sun that triumphs over death, darkness, and cold… This tree was therefore celebrated during the winter solstice in many traditions.
Saint Boniface and the oak of Thor. © Wikimedia Commons A legend then consecrates the tree as a symbol of the birth of Jesus. Saint Boniface, a German evangelizing monk, cuts down an oak tree, considered sacred by the Celts.
It crushes everything in its fall except a small fir tree! The miracle is born.
It was in the 16th century that the decorated tree made its appearance in Northern Europe, in Germany and the Scandinavian countries.
Today, many countries dispute the origin of this decorated tree, but historians tend to fix its origin in Alsace, then German, around 1520.
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How did the tradition of the tree spread all over the world?
We have seen that the tree was born in Germany and the Scandinavian countries. This tradition then traveled all over the world. And this via the phenomenon of migration and royal marriages of the German duchy’s princes and princesses.
Thus, Marie Leszcynska, the first wife of Louis XV, installed a tree at the court of Versailles. Just like Queen Charlotte, wife of the British King George III.
Very festive, this tradition spread, without being intimately linked to the birth of Jesus, an event rather celebrated by the nativity scene.
And where do the tree decorations come from?
At the very beginning of the tree, people adorned it with red apples and sweets. Certainly a reference to the Garden of Eden. However, in 1858, the little story relates that the apple harvest was disastrous due to drought.
Without further ado, an Alsatian glassblower, based in Goetzenbruck in Moselle, blew glass balls. The Christmas ball was born and the success was immediate.
It made the reputation of Vosges glassware until 1964, then fell into oblivion. Before being reborn in 1999. Since that date, every year, glassblowers release a unique collection of Christmas balls.
In the past, people also hung walnut shells filled with oil and equipped with a wick to bring light. Candles took over. With the danger they represented!
In 1885, a hospital in Chicago is said to have burned down because of the tree candles. It is following this catastrophe that the first electric garland was born in the United States.
In the past, people also hung sweets, round cakes, or hosts. As for the star, it recalls the one in Bethlehem. It is the youngest of the family who logically has to install it to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Today, plastic has taken over…
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