Christmas trees, or evergreens as we know them, have been used to celebrate winter since before the birth of Christ. Christmas trees were first decorated in Latvia in 1510, and small candles were added to light Christmas trees, beginning in the 17th century.
My favorite childhood memories of Christmas center around our Christmas trees. We loved going as a family to buy our tree each year, and then it sat outside in a bucket of water until Christmas eve. My father decorated the tree by himself, maybe because of the angle hair (spun glass) and real candles that went on the tree.
On Christmas eve we went to church, and afterwards the children had to wait upstairs while my father lit the candles. We sang Christmas carols as we came down the stairs and got our first glimpse of the Christmas tree, aglow from all the candles. We read the Christmas story in German, then English and then gifts were passed out.
Christmas Trees Make Wonderful Memories
Families have holiday traditions involving Christmas trees, gift giving, holiday meals and more. Your holiday traditions will change as your life changes, from special holiday memories as a child, to your first apartment, merging traditions with your significant other and more. My memories include making gingerbread houses, stringing popcorn and cranberries when our boys were small and when one of our homes had tall ceilings, Christmas trees that were 12 feet tall.
Recently we've become grandparents so with 4 family members in Florida, my husband and I fly south for the holidays. This is the second year we didn't put up a tree and thanks to someone on Facebook, I realized I'm missing the lights a lot — went downstairs to turn on the lights and went oops! Next year will begin a new tradition that will include Christmas trees or at least the lights that we usually associate with our Christmas trees.
Christmas Trees: Traditions Old and New
Christmas trees have traditionally been live trees cut down for the holidays, as most of us live far away from the Christmas tree farms where they're grown. Real trees outnumber fake trees 3 to 1, with the National Christmas Tree Association reporting 30.8 million real trees sold last year versus 9.5 million fake trees. There's lots of controversy about real trees versus fake trees — you get to decide yourself and here's more info on which Christmas trees are more green.
After so much discussion about real versus artificial Christmas trees, it was refreshing to see lots of new ideas about Christmas trees thanks to Pinterest. It's refreshing to see new ways to celebrate the holidays without a large tree — a 2-dimensional tree of wood, a tree made with broccoli, a library tree made from books, a cardboard tree that can be stored and reassembled easily. For those living in smaller spaces, i.e. down sizing to condos, there are great tree choices that need less space and less storage for tree decorations.
One of my favorite Christmas trees is the one at Rockefeller Center, in the center of New York City. This memory goes back to my childhood as I was born in NYC. While I haven't been able to visit every year, it's definitely a highlight when I visit the city and oops, I did visit this year but didn't take any photos so hope you enjoy this photo of the ice skating rink and Christmas tree at Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library.
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