The History of Christmas Trees


Did you know: Germany started celebrating Christmas with a tree in the 1500s?

I am amazed at how traditions are passed down from generation to generation but rarely do most of us know how they start.  As my kids get older and ask more questions I am compelled to find the truthful answer, it may just be for my own curiosity regardless I'm loving the challenge and the new knowledge.  Their latest question is:

why do we set up a Christmas tree

I've done some digging and found an answer, it might be a little wordy but we can all use a little history lesson right!

The History of Christmas Trees

Many people all over the world celebrate the holiday but few know the history of why people have Christmas trees as part of their decor.  The practice of setting up a Christmas tree first began as early as the 1500s as a German custom but the idea wasn’t widely accepted in the beginning.  It wasn't until the late 1800s that most of Germany started observing this tradition.

In the 1900s Royalty and wealthy class started putting up Christmas trees and the tradition was born in other cultures.  When the first wave of people left their country and came and settled in the New World, many brought with them the tradition of putting up evergreens inside their home and decorating small trees outside the home with whatever treasures nature provided.

It was regarded with suspicion and religious people believed the tree to be a symbol of paganism even though that belief was incorrect. Because of that belief, many Christians refused to have anything to do with Christmas trees. But slowly, the custom caught on.

Christmas trees first began to be marketed in the United States in the mid 1800s and were also accepted into the White House at the same time. Christmas trees were set up in public displays, trimmed with decorations and people were awed by the beauty.

In some countries, Winter Solstice marked the time to set up the Christmas tree – close to the arrival of Christmas day and to bring some light to the darkness. The first week of January was slated as time to remove the tree and all its trimmings.  This is due to an old wives tale:

What you’re doing on January 1, you’ll do all year long

Since taking down the tree is hard work, folks believed that by taking it down then, that meant they would work hard all year long.

Christmas Tree with Family

Whether the tree is put up after Thanksgiving or taken down after New Year’s Day, this is one custom that is loved and practiced by many. A Christmas tree can add a bright sparkle to your holidays.  We put on our Christmas pjs, pour a few festive drinks and settle in for some family time while we set up the tree and reminisce over the memories behind the ornaments.  I like the fact that no matter how busy we are we always find time to set up the tree together.


What is your family tradition for setting up the Christmas tree?

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