During Advent in the 11th
- century, scenes called mysteries, including one about
Paradise, were very popular. A tree decorated with red
apples symbolized the tree of Paradise. During the 15th
century, the faithful began to put up trees in their own
houses on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve.
Christmas tree is a Mandela, a bundle of symbols showing
what creation has to offer: light and the movement of
angels, the gifts of orchard and field, forest and sea,
all topped off by the star that pointed to the end of
the journey, the place of peace.
|According to the
National Christmas Tree Association the "Egyptians
brought green palm branches into their homes on the
shortest day of the year in December as a symbol of
life's triumph over death." The Egyptians weren't
alone however, in their use of evergreens to celebrate
life. The Chinese, the Hebrews and other ancient peoples
had similar pre-Christian customs. As can be expected
people in Northern climates were particularly interested
in the passing of the shortest day of the year and the
return of the sun. Sure enough pre-Christian
Scandinavians decorated houses and barns with
evergreens. It is from these Scandinavians that we get
the tradition of the Advent Wreath and the Yule Log.
They called this month Jol.
However, the first Christmas tree as we know it, but
without lights still, appeared in Alsace in 1521. It was
introduced in France by the Princess Hèléne de
Mecklembourg who brought one to Paris after her marriage
to the Duke of Orleans. In the 18th century, the custom
of decorating a Christmas tree was well established in
Germany, France, and Austria.
In 1841, Prince Albert (originally from Germany),
husband of Queen Victoria, set up a Christmas tree at
Windsor Castle in England. From the royal court, the
custom of Christmas trees spread quickly to the middle
class then to working people. For Victorians, a good
Christmas tree had to be six branches tall and be placed
with a white damask tablecloth. It was decorated with
garlands, candies and paper flowers.
The Christmas tree was introduced to Canada around the
end of the 18th century even before it became common
practice in England. The various ornaments with which it
was decorated were first made at home before being
commercially produced. In the middle of the 17th
century, Christmas tree were illuminated with little
candles. These were replaced at the beginning of the
20th century by electric bulbs. Other variations like
outdoor and artificial Christmas trees as appeared
around the beginning of the 20th century.
During the American
Revolution, in the 1770's, Hessians, German soldiers
hired to fight along side the British, introduced their
custom of having a Christmas tree into a pocket of
American civilization. After the war ended, some of the
Hessian soldiers remained and the tradition caught on
within the local region. The Pennsylvanian German
settlements, however, had a community Christmas tree as
early as 1747.
In addition to the
paradise tree, many German Christians set up a Christmas
Pyramid called a Lichstock, This was an open wooden
frame with shelves for figurines of the Nativity covered
with evergreen branches and decorated with candy,
pastry, candles, and a star. The star of course was the
star of Bethlehem, the candles represented the light of
Christ coming into the world, the evergreens were the
symbol of eternal life, and the candy, fruits, and
pastries, the goodness of our life in Christ, the fruits
of the spirit, etc. By the seventeenth century the
Lichstock and the "Paradise Tree" became
merged into the modern Christmas tree.
Chandelier prisms make
beautiful icicle ornaments for your Christmas tree!
Coat a faded glass ball ornament with white glue, roll
in glitter or golden dust and hang to dry! Instant
Buy clear glass Christmas bulbs and fill with potpourri,
sparkles or your own creative idea. Top with colored
ribbon, pearl beads and tiny ribbon silk flowers.
Tuck bunches of fresh/dried babies breath in the
branches. Other dried flowers work nicely!
String popcorn and cranberries together. It's easier if
you let the popcorn sit out for 24 hours and use dental
Buy several different kinds and sizes of ribbons, make
bows and drape them through the tree like garland.
Use fabric strips to make bows and give your tree a
Make gingerbread shapes to use as ornaments. Dried
apples and oranges make beautiful garlands or ornaments.
Spray gold paint on pinecones to give an elegant touch.
Buy small lace doilies, put them in a solution of glue
and water, let dry. This will stiffen them so they can
hang like snowflakes on the tree.
Make several theme trees and put them around the house
(any size will do) and use your creativity and
imagination coming up with different and unusual themes!
Popular Christmas Trees:
The Arizona cypress is a steeple shaped tree with a
pale-green to gray-green color. The leaves are extremely
tiny and quite plentiful. They lay close to the branch
let surface in a scale like arrangement and are about
0.1 inches long.
The bark is thin and delicate with a reddish brown
color. It splits into strips along the length of the
The cones are spherical in shape and woody. They mature
in two years. Tiny yellow flowers are visible in the
fall of the year. Heights of 80 feet and trunk diameters
up to 3 feet have been recorded. The Arizona cypress has
a pleasing aroma.
First described in 1768, balsam fir is a medium-sized
tree generally reaching 40-60 feet in height and 1-1 1/2
feet in diameter. It exhibits a relatively dense,
dark-green, pyramidal crown with a slender spire-like
tip. The scientific name "balsamea" is an
ancient word for the balsam tree, so named because of
the many resinous blisters found in the bark. Balsam fir
and Fraser fir have many similar characteristics,
although geographic ranges of the two species do not
Colorado Blue Spruce
Colorado blue spruce, or blue spruce, is an attractive
tree often used for Christmas trees or as ornamentals,
particularly in the eastern United States and Europe. It
is the official state tree of both Colorado and Utah.
The species generally reaches a height of 65-115 feet at
maturity with a diameter of 2-3 feet. It has a narrow,
pyramidal shape and cone-shaped crown. As trees become
older, they often take on a more irregular appearance.
While blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it is
long-lived and may reach ages of 600-800 years.
Canaan (pronounced "Ka-naan", with emphasis on
the last syllable) is a relative newcomer to the
Christmas tree market. It has many similarities to both
Fraser and balsam firs in growth and appearance.
Unfortunately, this similarity which has led to a great
deal of confusion. In 1909, a variety of balsam fir was
described in the literature as having cone scales
extending from the bracts. This morphology was a
deviation from typical balsam fir cones where the scales
are not extended. This variety was then named "phanerolepis"
which actually means conspicuous scales. The scientific
name of Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis was assigned.
The common names most often used were "bracted
balsam fir" and "Blue Ridge fir". Canaan
fir had not, at that time, been described separately.
Douglas-fir is not related to the true firs. This wide
ranging species grows from 70 to 250 feet tall. The
branches are spreading to drooping, the buds sharply
pointed and the bark is very thick, fluted, ridged,
rough and dark brown. The needles are dark green or blue
green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch and
radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have
a sweet fragrance when crushed.