by Ava Cunningham
If you celebrate Christmas, you know that one of the best things is picking out and decorating a Christmas tree. You can string it with lights or popcorn and add all kinds of ornaments that might be special to your family. Well, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, here in America, we still didn’t start setting up Christmas trees until about 100 years after German settlers came here in the 1740s. How did the Christmas tree become so popular? Well, let’s take a look…
Before Christianity came along, people decorated their houses with evergreen wreaths and boughs. They believed that the evergreens would ward off evil spirits and witches. Many ancient cultures – such as the Celts, and the Egyptians, believed that there was a sun god and that the evergreens were a gift from him symbolizing everlasting life.
Then, in the 16th century, as Christianity became more popular in Germany, the tradition of decorated trees in the home became more popular too. As Germans came to America in the 1740s, they brought with them the tradition of Christmas trees. Americans, though, thought this was very strange and saw them as “pagan symbols”. One governor even went as far as banning any observance on Christmas, other than church services.
However, in 1846, the queen of England was Queen Victoria. She was very popular; and not just in her country. A lot of people in America thought she was great too. That year, there was an illustration of her and her family around a Christmas tree in their home. This immediately sparked popularity for Christmas trees and it became more of a common tradition in England and America.
As it became more normal, people found different ways to decorate their trees. Some people decorated with homemade ornaments and others decorated with fruits and nuts and cookies. While the people of Europe liked smaller trees, people in America preferred taller ones. Once electricity came along, people decorated with small lights rather than candles, which was way safer. Now, there are tons of different types of ways to decorate and everyone has their own ideas for how to celebrate Christmas.