We all know that Christmas is all about giving, and being together with the family, and lots and lots of sweets and delicious cooking, it’s about enjoying the snow and building up snowmen, it’s about religion for some. Point is, even though Christmas means something else for each and one of us, a thing is sure, it’s an occasion of joy, an occasion of happiness and warmth.
Oh and one more thing. Christmas is about the eternal Christmas tree that cannot miss from any single house. Be it plastic, be it real, and be it just a small plant or a wooden decoration that looks like a tree. We have it, one way or another. So given that we all celebrate this evergreen tree, let’s find out a bit more about its history.
Where did it all begin
So don’t just think that the fir tree has been used recently to decorate our homes for this occasion. It has been used both by pagans and Christians since forever. Pagans used branches in order to decorate their homes, Romans used it to decorate the temples for Saturnalia and Christians believed it to be the symbol of everlasting life with God.
The exact date when fir tree started to be used for Christmas is unknown, however it had competition. Cherry trees and hawthorn plants were used as a Christmas symbol in many places. If a tree was too expensive for a family, no problem. Wood or paper was used to symbolize a real plant (and it was and still is a lot more eco than cutting down a real tree).
But what do the papers say
Apparently, the first documentation about a Christmas tree being used for the actual celebration and New Year appears, oops, both in Tallinn and Riga. Both of the cities claim to have had the first tree. And for all the singles out there reading this article, these first trees are said to have been put out by the local unmarried merchants.
Another known fact is that these trees were placed in the local square and were danced around. And what happened afterwards? They were set on fire… not exactly the happy ending you’d expect. However, in case you are interested, in the town square of Riga you can find a plaque that is engraved “The First New Year’s Tree in Riga in 1510″ that’s translated in eight languages.
In more precise terms
If we are to talk about an actual person who started hanging a Christmas tree in his own house, this person is said to be the German preacher Martin Luther. To be honest, there are all sorts of legends out there about the first Christmas tree and how it came into existence. These legends circulate from Latvia to Germany.
The early decorations
At the beginning of time, well, of this tradition, people were a bit more practical than now. The trees were decorated with edible goodies, such as gingerbread or apples. Then marketing happened and glass makers saw an amazing opportunity to show off their talent and started creating small ornaments that come a bit closer in looks to the ones we use nowadays.
At the beginnings, on the top of the tree was placed a figure of Jesus. Throughout time this has shifter style and changed into an angel, shepherd or a star.