Ori­gins of the Christ­mas tree

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES -

IN an­cient times, plants and trees that re­mained ev­er­green held a spe­cial mean­ing for peo­ple in the north­ern hemi­sphere where win­ters could be de­press­ingly cold and dark and grey. Ev­er­greens were a re­minder that spring would come again, that green plants would flour­ish again.

This was be­fore Chris­tian­ity came into the pic­ture, mind you; when the re­li­gion did be­gin to spread in Europe, many such pa­gan prac­tices were in­cor­po­rated into sea­sonal cus­toms.

The Christ­mas tree tra­di­tion as the world now knows it can sup­pos­edly be traced to Ger­many in the 16th cen­tury, when Chris­tians brought dec­o­rated trees into their homes. Fa­mously, it was Protes­tant re­former Martin Luther who first put lights on a tree in­side the house at that time: he was said to have been in­spired by the bril­liant sight of twin­kling stars amidst ev­er­greens while walk­ing home one night and, want­ing to re-cre­ate that beauty for his fam­ily, fixed lighted can­dles onto the tree in his house.

Ger­man set­tlers spread the cus­tom to the Amer­i­cans, though most peo­ple in 19th cen­tury United States still saw it as a pa­gan sym­bol and wanted lit­tle to do with the idea. But then Queen Vic­to­ria and her Ger­man Prince, Al­bert, were sketched in the Il­lus­trated Lon­don News stand­ing with their chil­dren around a Christ­mas tree. It was 1846, when the roy­als were pop­u­lar on both sides of the At­lantic, so Christ­mas trees be­came fash­ion­able al­most overnight, not just in Bri­tain but with fash­ion­con­scious East Coast Amer­i­can so­ci­ety.

Soon af­ter Thomas Edi­son demon­strated the first in­can­des­cent lamp in 1879, elec­tric bulbs be­gan ap­pear­ing on Christ­mas trees in Amer­ica and Bri­tain, along­side tra­di­tional dec­o­ra­tions like home­made or­na­ments, ap­ples, nuts, and marzi­pan cook­ies and, later, brightly-dyed pop­corn.

Thanks to the many Euro­pean na­tions that colonised parts of Asia, most of the cus­toms in this part of the world have been adopted from the West – in­clud­ing “snow” on “fir” trees! Nowa­days, though, Asians are think­ing out of the box and find­ing new ways to cel­e­brate the sea­son while re­mem­ber­ing the heart of the celebration. – In­for­ma­tion from his­tory.com and other online sources

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.