My favorite part of Christmas is going to the Christmas Tree farm, finding the perfect tree, chopping it down and bringing it home to decorate it with lights, baubles, crystal snowflakes and much much more!! In keeping with my love of history, I'm going to be doing an article all about the history of Christmas Trees! I'm really excited about this article and have had so much fun doing all the research for this article and hope whoever reads it enjoys it!

Way before the advent of Christianity ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. They believed that these boughs would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness!

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A. Northern Hemisphere: (winter solstice)
To ancient people the sun was a god and they believed that winter came because the sun god had become sick and weak so they celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun would begin to get well. They hung ever green boughs at this time because it reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return

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B. Egyptians: God called Ra
During the Solstice when Ra began to recover from illness, the Egyptians filled their home with green palm rushes which symbolized the triumph of life over death

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C. Early Romans:
The early roman's celebrated solstice with a feast called Saturnalia, which was a feast in honor of the god Saturn, god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant farms and orchards would soon be green and fruitful so to mark this occasion they decorated their temples and homes with evergreen boughs.

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D. Northern Europe:
Druids, priests of the ancient celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as symbols of everlasting life.

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E. Germany:
The Germans are credited with starting the Christmas Tree tradition as we know it today. It was in the 16th century that devout Christians brought Christmas trees into their homes

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F. Martin Luther: 16th century protestant reformer
Martin Luther is credited with first adding lighted candles to a tree. Walking towards home one winter evening he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling among the evergreens. He wanted to create this scene hence putting lighted candles on a tree

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G. 19th Century American's found Christmas trees an oddity
1840: Americans still viewed Christmas Trees as pagan symbols. In fact the Puritan's went so far as to make a law against the "heathen traditions of Christmas Cards, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated the sacred event"
1846: Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert were sketched in the illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas Tree. Queen Victoria was extremely popular with her subjects, what was done at court immediately became fashionable not only in Britain but in America as well. THE CHRISTMAS TREE HAD ARRIVED!

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H. 1890:
Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the US. In Europe they used small trees about four feet in height while Americans like Christmas trees to reach from the floor to the ceiling. By the 20th Century Americans were decorating their trees with mainly homemade ornaments while German-Americans decorated them with apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors with berries and nuts. The advent of electricity brought Christmas Lights

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The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree:
-Sorry I had to include this since NYC is my favorite place in the world! The Rockefeller Christmas tree dates back all the way to the days of The Great Depression. The first tree was placed there in 1931 by construction workers, it was a plain, unadorned tree! 1948 had the tallest tree, a Norway Spruce that measured in at 100 ft tall and hailed from Killingworth Ct, my home state! While the tree was unadorned in 1931 the tree today carries about 25,000 lights!

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I. Christmas Trees around the world:
I thought it would be fun to include a little section about Christmas Trees around the world:

A. Canada: German settlers migrated to Canada from U.S. in 1700s and brought with them advent calendars, gingerbread houses, cookies and Christmas Trees
B. Mexico: In mexico the principal holiday adornment is El Naciamiento (nativity scene), however a decorated tree, typically artificial, may be incorporated
C. Britain: Norway Spruce, native species in the British isles before the last ice age, is the traditional species used to decorate homes in Britain
D. Greenland: Christmas trees are imported, as none grow there and are decorated with candles and bright ornaments
E. Sweden: most people buy Christmas trees before Christmas Eve, but it was not common to take the trees into the house until a couple of days before and are typically decorated with stars, sunbursts, and snowflakes made from straw
F. Norway: on Christmas eve is the decorating of the tree, followed by "circling the Christmas tree" which follows after decorating when everyone joins hands to form a ring around the tree, walk around and sing Christmas carols
G. Spain: a popular Christmas custom is Catalonia, a lucky strike game where a tree trunk is filled with goodies and children hit at the trunk trying to knock out the hazel nuts, almonds, toffees and other treats

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J. Christmas Tree Trivia:

A. Trees have been sold commercially in the U.S. since 1850
B. Tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be 122-foot tall, 91 year old Douglas Fir in the town of Woodinville Washington!
C. Christmas trees generally take 6-8 years to mature
D. 77 MILLION Christmas Trees are planted each year
E. Top Christmas tree producing states: Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington
F. The actual German term for Christmas tree is WEIHNACHTSBAUM

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