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Christmas Tree tradition has ancient roots

As+a+symbol+of+the+modern-day+Christmas+season%2C+a+Christmas+tree+stands+in+the+center+of+the+KMC+Round+for+the+holidays.+Christmas+trees+date+back+to+ancient+Egypt.+photo+by+Isaac+Caire+
As a symbol of the modern-day Christmas season, a Christmas tree stands in the center of the KMC Round for the holidays. Christmas trees date back to ancient Egypt. photo by Isaac Caire

As a symbol of the modern-day Christmas season, a Christmas tree stands in the center of the KMC Round for the holidays. Christmas trees date back to ancient Egypt. photo by Isaac Caire

As a symbol of the modern-day Christmas season, a Christmas tree stands in the center of the KMC Round for the holidays. Christmas trees date back to ancient Egypt. photo by Isaac Caire


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 Santa, snowmen, elves, ornaments – these are all parts to the Christmas holiday. Personally I love the holiday season and look forward to it every year. I like to go shopping for gifts and before you know it, the season is over. Many of my family traditions and memories are from this holiday. My favorite tradition is putting a Christmas tree up and decorating it with ornaments.
This tradition of Christmas trees actually dates back to when people thought the sun god became ill on Dec. 21-22, the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night of the year). They would decorate their homes with evergreen boughs because they stayed green all year and reminded them of the green in summer, when their god was not sick.
An example of this belief can be seen in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the god Ra, who was the god of the sun. People believed that Ra would recover from a sickness and they would decorate their homes with green palm rushes, which symbolized the triumph of life over death.
Later in history, early Romans and northern Europe would also celebrate holidays based on the winter solstice. Early Romans celebrate Saturnalia, which marked the solstice in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. Romans knew that before long farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. In celebration, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
Even though ancient people like the Egyptians, Romans, and northern European influenced the Christmas tree, Germany is credited with starting the tradition. In the 16th century, devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles. Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant reformer, is first credited with adding lit candles to a Christmas tree. He got the idea when walking home one winter evening, composing his sermon, when he saw the twinkling stars in the sky. He wanted to recreate the look and did so by using candles.
However, unlike the Germans, Americans did not view the tradition the same at first. Christmas trees were an oddity. In the early 1600s, William Bradford, the pilgrims’ second governor, wrote that he tried to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the holiday, which to him got rid of the seriousness of the holiday. Even Oliver Cromwell, an English military officer and political leader, stated the he was against “the heathen tradition” of singing Christmas carols, decorating trees, and joyful expressions that damaged the “sacred event.” So in 1659, the court of Massachusetts passed a law that any celebration on Dec. 25, other than a church service, was a penal offense. People were fined for hanging decorations. This continued until the 1900s, when German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan tradition.
In 1846, Queen Victoria and her German husband, Albert, were drawn in the Illustrated London News, with her children, around a Christmas tree. The style immediately became trendy and by the 1890s, German ornaments became popular and the Christmas tree popularity increased. While the United States likes big floor-to-ceiling trees, Europeans put up small 4-feet trees. In the early 20th century, Americans began making homemade ornaments and garlands, made of popcorn and nuts.
Then in 1882, Edward Johnson invented Christmas lights. However the trend never picked up until 40 years later. Before lights, families used candles to decorate their tree, which was a big safety hazard and was actually the cause of many house fires. The Christmas light trend began to get popular in 1895, when President Grover Cleveland asked that multicolored lights be on the family’s tree. Then in 1903, General Electric produced pre-assembled lights. However the lights were very expensive and an average Christmas tree with hundreds of electrical lights before 1903 would cost $2,000 in today’s dollars.
Through ancient beliefs that a god was ill and the celebration of life and the invention of Christmas lights, a global holiday developed that has become part of American culture. I love Christmas and look forward to it every year. The Christmas tree has become a part of my family’s Christmas traditions and is truly a way to spread holiday cheer. We decorate our tree in a woodland vintage theme that our family loves. How do you decorate your tree?

Information from: http://www.history.com, www.loc.gov

 

Isaac Caire, staff writer

 

 

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Christmas Tree tradition has ancient roots