Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree

There are many different trees that are used for Christmas Trees…the choice is always a personal one based on tradition, smell, look, or any other reason the family finds satisfying!

The pines that are often chosen are: Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris), White Pine (Pinus strobes), and Norway pine (Pinus resinosa). Among the most popular spruces are: White Spruce (Picea glauca), and Blue Spruce (Picea pungens). Some popular firs are: Frasier Fir (Abies fraseri), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menzeseii), and Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). Some folks prefer cedars, junipers, hemlock, or tamarack.

The use of the Christmas tree is believed to have originated in Germany in the 17th century. It started with a fir tree decorated with paper flowers, paraded through town and after all the party was over it was ceremonially set ablaze. The evergreen symbolized immortality and the ancients would bring the boughs inside the home during the cold winter months to ensure the safety and protection of the home, and to ensure the return of life to the snow covered lands. The Vikings celebrated Yule before that with the use of the evergreen. Most Christmas traditions find their beginning in the old Yule celebrations.

The Winter Solstice, when the days began to get longer was a time of great joy. The Old Norse would decorate the evergreens with small bits of food, bright pieces of clothing, small statues of the gods and carved runes to entice the spirits of the trees and lands to return with the spring. They also did these celebrations to encourage a good future for their crops in the turning seasons ahead.

At one time bells were hung on the tree, when the bell rang it was a warning that the woodland spirits had entered the home….food was hung on the branches of the trees to appease these spirits. Years later the Christians kept the bells but changed the explanation to angels getting their wings. A popular telling of this was in the Christmas classic movie “A Good Life.”

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