Origins of the Christmas tree
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