We only started using Christmas trees in the last few hundred years. It’s not based on anything in the Bible, therefore we can safely say it’s a secular symbol. From the two trees in Genesis, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, to the crucifixion of Christ being called a “tree” in Acts, the Bible has several references to trees. However, there is no holiday tree in sight.
In the same way, traditional pagan literature has the same flaws. The modern Christmas tree has no link to ancient pagan traditions like the Saturnalia festival or the Egyptian deity Ra.
And the story about Saint Boniface and the Germans? It’s just a myth.
Almost every major religion, both ancient and modern, makes use of trees in some capacity during their ceremonies, but Christmas trees are not one of them.Even by the time we reach the 16th century, the traditional Christmas tree we know and love is still 350 years away.
There is no scholarly backing for the legend that Martin Luther was responsible for the tree’s creation. Despite how virtuous it may seem, Luther’s contemplation of the newborn Christ was not enhanced by the sight of a snow-covered tree.
To tell the truth, having a Christmas tree in the home is a custom that dates back only a few generations. It all started in the 17th century in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg as a little, regional custom.
Traditional in Germany
The German residents of Strasbourg have a tradition of passing judgement on Christmas Eve that includes decorating a tree. Parents would pass judgement on their children. Bonbons, if they were any good, would be left under a tree. A foretaste of the severity of Judgment Day, if you were evil, was that you got no bonbons.
Beginning in the 1770s, the rite was practised in several locations throughout Germany. In his work Sorrows of Young Werther, German romantic author Goeth provided the first widely read account of the Christmas tree (1774). But it wasn’t until the 1830s, when the Christmas tree had already become a cultural phenomenon in the United States, that it was extensively accepted in Germany.
German merchants in Manchester brought the custom to Britain in the 1830s, about the same time as the courts of George III and William IV, who were both of German heritage, introduced it to British nobility.
In 1840, Prince Albert introduced the custom to Britain by erecting a Christmas tree in the Windsor Palace.
In 1848, an engraving of Victoria, Albert, and their children gathered around a tree illuminated by candles and decorated with glass ornaments was published in The Illustrated London News and became a cultural icon.
Staying away from unnecessary details
The American tradition of using a Christmas tree to conceal gifts was established in Pennsylvania in 1812.
The Christmas tree’s widespread acceptance in American society may be traced back to an effort to clean up Christmas.
Christmas was more like a carnival until the middle of the 19th century, with revellers of various socioeconomic backgrounds parading around cities and knocking on the doors of the affluent to demand food and drink. Eventually, intoxication, destruction, and obscene behaviour were standard fare at these “wassailing” parties.
The indoor, kid-friendly Christmas tree that the middle-class family would congregate around would help calm the commotion of the holiday season.
No longer would youngsters be allowed to freely enjoy the season outside. The outside would be brought in by way of a tree that would be felled and brought inside so that the holiday season could be celebrated in the warmth and security of a house.
The Christmas tree was popularised by American merchants and manufacturers as a way to tone down the holiday’s excesses. Once forward-thinking retailers saw the possibilities of the new indoor celebrations, only then did gifts begin to appear under the tree.
Traditional Christmas excesses such as drinking, eating, and sexual activity have returned in a more refined, middle-class form thanks to gift-giving.
The presentable The modern Christmas present was developed in America in the 1840s and quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. In response to the advertising campaigns of book publishers, parents started putting wrapped presents under Christmas trees.
Not German immigrants, but these novels spread the news of the new ritual to American households, where the Christmas tree was portrayed as a way to encourage youngsters to stay indoors throughout the winter. Leaving presents beneath the tree is a foolproof strategy to keep your kids from going out and getting into trouble while you enjoy the festivities.
Booksellers issued anthologies of stories and poetry like Kriss Kringle’s Christmas Tree (1845), in which children not only got books as presents but also swords, drums, and dolls.
The publishers of these books were geniuses for portraying this novel method of buying presents for youngsters as a time-honored custom. The historical Magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus, and some parents have taken this as evidence that the practise of putting presents under the Christmas tree goes back to that time.
Despite its Christian-sounding moniker, the contemporary Christmas tree has little historical ties to the Christian past.
The Christmas tree has been a secular emblem of the season, its continued popularity related to the dynamics of a consumerist economy, since the 1830s, when it became a widespread, middle-class custom to bring a tree indoors and adorn it with lights, ornaments, angels, and stars.