Christmas Tree Facts
The Christmas Tree is something that we all put in our homes each year, and most of us enjoy decorating. In our home when we are decorating our tree we play festive music and eat lots of chocolate.
The traditional Christmas tree is a fir tree but many people buy artificial trees. Quite often the decorating of the tree can be a family occasion, with everyone helping.
The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from Germany and put it in Windsor Castle. The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children, and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.
During the Victorian times, Christmas trees were decorated with candles to remind children of the stars in the sky at the time of the birth of Jesus. Using candles was, of course, a great fire hazard. Today, candles have been replaced by little coloured electric lights, more a reminder of the fairground than the sacred symbolisation of the 'Light of the World'.
Christmas trees were also decorated with sweets and cakes hung with ribbon. In 1880, Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments which proved to be very popular.
Today, Christmas trees are decorated with tinsel, lights and small ornaments which hang from the branches. Chocolate coins or chocolate shapes are also hung on the Christmas tree and the presents are put under the tree
Of course there are variations on how people decorate trees, some like to go for a traditional feel, or a rustic feel, while others decorate in a glitzy or sparkly way.
An angel or star is usually put on the very top of the tree. The angel reminds Christians of the angel who brought glad tidings of great joy to the shepherds in the field.
Why do we decorate the tree?
A Long time ago people used to decorate trees outside each winter. When the trees had lost their leaves, it was felt that the spirits living in the trees had abandon them. This made people very worried because they believed that without tree-spirits the trees would not grow leaves ever again.
To encourage the tree-spirits to return they dressed the trees with strips of coloured cloth. They hoped by making the trees look beautiful, the spirits would return to live in the trees ready for Spring. To everyone's delight this worked and every year, in spring, the trees burst into leaf again despite the worst winter weather.
When the new custom of bringing small fir trees indoors started in Germany, it was natural enough to add similar decorations to them, even though fir trees had not lost their leaves.
Over time people add different decorations. They added strings of beads and fruit, gingerbreads and sweets were hung from the branches.
Special Christmas Trees in the UK
In London, near the statue of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, a giant Christmas tree is set up and decorated with great ceremony each year. The tree is a thank you gift from the people of Oslo, Norway. During the Second World War, King Haakon of Norway was forced into exile in England when the Germans occupied his country. Since 1947, Norway has expressed its thanks for the help of the British people by continuing to send a huge Norwegian spruce to be shared by all.
Recycling Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are biodegradable - the trunk and branches can be used as mulch for gardens. The mulch provides a protect barrier for the roots of other plants and vegetation while preventing weeds from growing. The mulch then decomposes, providing the nutrients plants need to thrive.