Secret History Of Your Christmas Tree

old christmas tree and ladies

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The Valley air is a cold wood-stove. Mist sleeps in the Redwoods. Your tree waits like a toddler for Christmas. Do you put up a tree? Do you hang with family? Do you pack packages with glee? Where did your tradition come from? 

Your Christmas tree has a wonderful story. A history old as dirt. Lets shine light on this mystery together. Your Christmas Tree has a Grandpa. It begins with ancient Egyptians. They used trees in ceremonies.  This was thousands of years ago.

The tree you know was born in Germany 500 years back.  What a fantastic thought. Imagine the year 1517. Picture a frozen village on the other side of earth. A family gathered by a tree just like you. They had a fire burning. The same smells and feelings were in the air. Like you, they decorated their trees with fruit and food. Not like you, Germans made tinsel from strips of beaten silver. Wow. If you feel bold try beating a silver dollar into a bundle of tinsel.  Germans were clearly epic decorators, but 

they couldn’t match you with the lighting. 

The idea for tree lights came from Martin Luther. On a dark saunter; he saw frozen stars shine in the Evergreens. To copy the starry sight he hung lit candles in his tree at home. Talk about a fire hazard. He survived the serendipity. His candlelit trees became popular. 

When Germans came to America they brought Christmas trees. But progress was Puritan-slapped! The Puritans hated decorations and trees and despised dancing and singing. They made laws against your tree. It was literally illegal to have a tree for Christmas. Your Christmas tree was an outlaw rebel. It survived scorn for 150 years until it got a huge break. In fact your tree ended up with a rockstar endorsement.

Queen Victoria decorated the tree in her house in 1876.  Like any proper royalty she posted a selfie. East Coast newspapers printed the pic and America went wild. In the 1800’s America loved copying the royal family. Trees popped up in every home and our tradition continued.  Your grandparents hung nuts, dry fruit, and popcorn… Just like the 1st Germans!

Imagine being a German at the time. “Yea, I told you so… 400 years ago”

We were close, but we still had a hot safety issue. So hot it burned a hospital and a hundred homes. Candles in trees! Imagine how busy BCFD would be if maniacs still hung fire in Christmas trees?

Don’t worry, Benjamin Franklin saved the day. (actually his assistant). They blew a bundle of fetty fashioning a tree with 300 light bulbs. Your modern Christmas lights were born. This brings us to the tree in your house. Same tree. Similar decorations. Safer lights. Same family.  

Old Time Christmas tree with a family
victorian family parents and children with christmas tree . vintage picture with original film grain and blur

Ancient Egyptians to Royalty. Germans to Boulder Creecians. Your tree tradition stood the test of time. Hanging with friends and family never goes out of style. It feels comforting to know our history. We’ve done this before. We’re part of a unique human condition. We’re part of a wonderful community. Your tree and your town. Your family and world.  

You can shape your own family tradition. I bought a lil’ live tree this year. (exclusive photo above) I’ll watch it grow and bring it in the house each year. When it gets too big I will plant it in the yard with the Redwoods. Then it will carry on without me. 

Did you know that our local redwoods are Evergreens? They are like giant living Christmas trees. We have the worlds tallest evergreen in CA. It’s 379 ft of Evergreen Christmas Tradition. Just think, it has been around for all of Christmas tree history.

At Electric Elf we appreciate the wonderful history of Christmas. It helps us enjoy what we do when we consider the rich history that we’re a part of.

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