HISTORY: CHRISTMAS TREES Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
The Christmas tree is a mandala, a bundle of symbols showing what creation has to offer: light and the movement of angels, the gifts of orchard and field, forest and sea, all topped off by the star that pointed to the end of the journey, the place of peace.
During Advent in the XIth century, scenes called mysteries, including one about Paradise, were very popular. A tree decorated with red apples symbolized the tree of Paradise. During the XVth century, the faithful began to put up trees in their own houses on December 24, the feast day of Adam and Eve.
Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree? In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.
Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God's Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.
The Christmas tree was introduced to Canada around the end of the XVIIIth century even before it became a common practice in England. The various ornaments with which it was decorated were first made at home before being commercially produced. In the middle of the XVIIth century, Christmas trees were illuminated with little candles. These were replaced at the beginning of the XXth century by electric bulbs. Other variations like outdoor and artificial Christmas trees as appeared around the beginning of the XXth century.
North America gave the traditional Christmas tree a new look with the invention of strings of electric lights. As early as 1912, the first illuminated trees appeared in Boston's public areas. Outdoor Christmas trees quickly became commonplace in North America. After the First World War, this novelty reached Europe and became widespread towards the middle of the XXth century.
Towards the end of the XIXth century, another variation of the traditional Christmas tree also appeared on the market: the artificial tree. The earliest came from Germany and were made of metal wire and goose or turkey feathers died green to imitate pine needles.