Christmas Tree History
Germany is credited with establishing the tradition of the Christmas tree. Reportedly, the holiday ritual began in the 16th century when Christians brought freshly-cut trees into their homes and then decorated them with foodstuffs and ornaments. Candles were also placed on the trees.
In England, the Christmas tree custom became popular in the 1840's. Families adorned their trees with sweets, fruits and gingerbread. Other, wealthier families would decorate their trees with fruit and candy, toy swords, jewelry, musical instruments and dolls.
It wasn't until the 19th century that the Christmas tree found its way to America, and even then was thought of as an oddity. The first recorded display of a tree in America was credited to German settlers who were living in Pennsylvania in the 1830s. It was reportedly erected at a church to raise money, but the local people thought it offensive and asked that it be taken down.
When the trees gained more popularity, it was noted Europeans liked smaller trees but Americans preferred theirs to reach from floor to ceiling. In the early part of the 20th century, most Americans decorated their trees using homemade ornaments and a variety of foodstuffs, such as apples and baked goods.
In Japan, trees were decorated with small toys, paper fans, lanterns and wind chimes. Sometimes miniature candles were also placed in the tree branches.
In Russia, flowers and colored lights are added to Christmas trees. In Mexico, beautiful red poinsettias are used. In Ireland, red candles are placed, while in Greece tinsel is layered on holiday trees with a star placed on top.
In Wales, the tree is decorated with lights and trinkets. The people of Monaco place lights and religious icons in their trees.