• Dariia Pasko

Why do we decorate a Christmas tree?

Updated: Jan 31

The first sign of Christmas being near, is not the snow or special offers at Timmy’s. It’s the candy sales at Walmart.


Every year we watch the same movies, bake cookies, enjoy snow and of course, decorate a Christmas tree. Traditions somewhere, bring us a holiday spirit.

However, what was the initial purpose of doing such a thing, as bringing home a fir-tree and placing a random stuff on it?

Let me introduce you to the ancient Egyptian beliefs.


In general, evergreen plants were considered as protection against witches. People used to put them on windows and doors to avoid evil spirits getting into their houses. This tradition appeared long before Christianity.

Egyptians believed that sun was a god called Ra. In December, the night from 21st to 22nd is the longest night in the year - winter solstice. Ancestors believed that Ra was feeling sick during this time as he wasn’t wearing his sun blazing disk.

When day started to be longer than night again, Egyptians supposed that Ra began to recover from his illness, so they celebrated life overcoming death by filling their homes with green palm rushes and feasted.

Romans knew about solstice and had a festival in honor of Saturn (God of agriculture) – Saturnalia. By reveling , exchanging gifts and decorating houses with evergreen boughs they marked that soon spring will return and they will be able to grow crops again.


Ancient Celts and Vikings had similar traditions for Celts green plants in winter that symbolized everlasting life. Vikings also believed that evergreen trees were Balder’s - god of the sun - spirits.


According to the psychological research, green color means health, life, trust, money and wealth. No doubt that ancients knew that. However, how the tradition spread across Europe and America?


In early calendars, 24th of December was Adam and Eve’s Day, so Christmas Trees may have started as “Paradise Trees” and represented Garden of Eden.

While, the first documented record comes from either Tallin (Estonia) in 1441 or Riga (Latvia) in 1510. The trees were put up in the square, where people were dancing and singing around and then eventually burn them by the end of celebration.

There is also a legend that Martin Luther was the first person who brought a tree inside a house. According to the story, he was walking in the forest ,the night before Christmas and saw the sky, through tree branches. He was inspired by the beauty of shining starts, because it reminded him about Jesus. So, he brought the tree home and decorated it with candles as symbols of starts.

Germans brought the tradition of decorating Christmas trees to America and nowadays people in US and Canada spend billions of dollars on that every year.


What conclusion can be made from what you’ve just read? Christmas tree is not a simple decoration, it’s a holiday symbol, which has rich history beginning from ancients celts and Egyptians. So when you will put candies and figures on it this year – keep in mind that humans started to do that 5000 years ago.


Merry Christmas everyone! 🎄


Sources:

https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/pdf/10.1094/PHP-2000-1013-01-RV

https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/trees.shtml

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10410236.2012.725270




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