SundryShop.com Explains the Oriigin of the Christmas Tree and Showcases An Amazing Collection of Collectible Hand Blown Christmas Ornaments
Imagine a world without Christmas trees around which the family and friends gather during the winter holiday season? Truly, contemporary life would be quite different indeed!
Given that SundryShop's assosrtment of collectible Patricia Breen, Christopher Radko, Vaillancourt Folk Art, Old World Inge Glas, Kurt Adler Polonaise by Komoja, & vintage hand blown European glass ornaments is one of the largest on the Internet, it's befitting that we share information about the origin of the Christmas tree. If you've ever asked, "Where then did the use of Christmas trees come from?", SundryShop.com has answers!
Mouth-blown and handcrafted glass ornaments are wonderful gifts that endure through the years and even the generations. And they are terrific collectible investments. Enjoy exploring our large collection!
The Use of Coniferous Trees During Pre-Christian Times
While we often believe that the Christmas trees has its roots in some Bavarian village before the Victorian era, in reality coniferous trees had celebratory meaning during much earlier pagan, Pre-Christian times. After the foods were harvested and the leaves fell from the trees, mankind in Northern Europea dealt with the barren realities of winter! Snow blanketed the earth during the winter months, with only coniferous trees reminding one of the fecund green world of the other seasons. Consequently, evergreens took on special meaning. The Old Norse custom of hanging jingling balls on coniferous trees strove to drive away evil spirits that they believed lingered longer during the long, winter nights.
Not only was framing a door or window with holy with berries a visual feast, but the prickly thorns snagged the evil spirits, as well!
Pagans generally selected and lit outdoor Yule trees on which they suspended ornaments that symbolized the sun, moon, and stars that looked down upon the Tree of Life. The tree lights also permitted remembrance of departed love ones and the hanging of sacred presents as offerings to deities.
Christian Use of the Christmas Tree
The Christian use of the Christmas tree originated in what is now modern day Germany. The English Bishop Winfri, who later was ordained a saint and became known as Saint Boniface, was a missionary who successfully preached Christianity primarily to the Hesse Germans and the French during the 8th century AD. Certain legends evolved to explain how Boniface introduced the concept of the Christmas tree.
First, Boniface in effect substituted as the Druid's object of worship the fir tree for the Donar Oak. Boniface accomplished this by using the upside-down, triangular fir tree as a symbol to teach about the holy trinity.
Another story proposes that, upon returning to Geismar, Germany after visiting Rome in 723 to confer with Pope Gregory II, Boniface was angered when he discovered that the Druids had reverted back to old pagan ways and were about to sacrifice a young man under Oden's oak. Boniface grabbed an axe and felled the mighty oak. All in the fallen tree's path was crushed except for a tiny fir tree that magically replaced the oak tree. Seeing that the gods spared both Boniface and the little fir tree, the Druids believed the little fir tree to be a miracle and named it "Christbaum" (Christ's tree). Thereafter, the Druids not only became true Christians, but also used the fir tree (the Yule tree) in their Christian celebratory practices.
Even into the medieval times, verdant coniferous trees were a powerful symbol signifying hope for a blossoming spring that would bring new beginnings. Because doors and windows were generally kept closed during the winter months, the stagnant thatch and straw flooring produced objectionable odors. Displaying evergreens not only added a lively dash of color to the home decor, but also smelled “fresher”. And, throwing a handful of readily accessible pine needles and cones into the fireplace produced pleasantly scented incense that also helped mask nasty smells.
It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protesant Reformer during the 16th century, established the precedent of using candle lit Christmas trees to replicate the brilliant effect of viewing stars through the branches of fir trees. The use of Christmas trees became so popular that by the 16th Century, that ordinances cropped up permitting only one tree per household in order to prevent deforestation! Christmas trees were traditionally decorated with fruits, nuts, dates, sugar twists, and candle figures, most of which were consumed while the tree adorned the home
However, Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, found both the use of decorated Christmas trees and Christmas carols to be sacrilegious and, using the threat of persecution, banned any celebration of Christmas other than attending church, thereby putting a halt to the Christmas tree usage for around 200 years. Accordingly, the Puritans in North America followed suit. This period of time represented a "dark age" for the Christmas tree tradition!
The Renaissance of the Christmas Tree During the 19th Century
The Christmas trees as a more recent tradition can be traced back to 1848 after Princess Victoria married her cousin Albert from Germany. Albert brought the Christmas tree custom to England when he decorated a “Yule-tree” to welcome his brother Ernest to Windsor Palace. The tree was a big hit among the English nobility who wholeheartedly credited the “foreigner” Albert with introducing a great new idea that soon became a national English Christmas custom. Almost magically, the coniferous tree brought to the dreary, wintery English city elements of the green countryside and helped uplift otherwise oft depressed spirits! And it provided a welcome enhancement of seasonal celebration and merriment. Indeed, pictures of the royal family enjoying holiday festivities around the Christmas tree quickly came to epitomize a quintessentially perfect Victorian family activity.
Lighted candles were again commonly used on potted Christmas trees during the Victorian era. The trees could then be planted after the holidays. The illuminating magical effect created by candles endured even though occasionally the home would catch fire and burn down.
The Ongoing Evolution of the Christmas Tree
The holiday Christmas tree tradition quickly spread throughout the world, and it has evolved! Today, the Christmas tree celebrates not just Christmas, but many different holidays. Families commonly imbue their own unique value system and worldview into the tree’s decoration. One can be as readily greeted by a patriotic tree, a tree enlightened by angels, a Valentines Day tree, a tree adorned with beautiful silk flowers, and much more! Baby Boomers and their children are nostalgically collecting aluminum trees produced during the 1940s through the 1960s! The environmentally conscious produce glorious displays on artificial trees. Even the use of ribbons and choice ornaments on a well articulated tree limb can produce a festive treel. Increasingly, families take time from the hustle and bustle of their busy lives to gather together and decorate the tree in personal, meaningful ways. Why, some creative family even made a snowman Christmas tree!
Collecting fine, European hand blown ornaments to share your holiday traditions with friends and families contributes to wonderful memories and can be a great collectible investment. Visit SundryShop.com for the largest assortment of collectible glass ornaments on the Internet!
Share Pictures of Your Decorated Trees and Decorating Ideas
SundryShop.com welcomes your comments and pictures of your family tree! And we invite you to share pictures of your tannenbaum creations on our Christopher Radko Holiday Décor facebook fan page, as well! And also visit our main SundryShop.com facebook fan page to share your ideas!
[SundryShop.com November, 2012, All rights preserved]