Christmas tree

Title: The History of the Christmas Tree

Ever wondered where the classic Christmas tradition stems from?

It’s time to deck the halls with boughs of holly, and dust off our lights and ornaments. Whether you have a traditional old school tree, or a reusable one that you store away all year, it is the sentiment of the Christmas tree that counts. The tradition is symbolic, and dates back to ancient Egypt and Rome.


Evergreens in Ancient Times

Before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that retained their greenery year-round had a special meaning for people in the winter and were used as home decorations. These included pine, spruce, and fir trees. In many countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep away evil spirits, illness, and more.


It was believed by ancient people that on the winter solstice, which is the shortest day and the longest night in the Northern hemisphere, that the sun was a god, and the winter came every year because the god had become weak. This winter solstice was celebrated, because it meant the sun god would begin to recover and spring would soon arrive. Evergreen boughs reminded the people that the green plants would grow again, and the sun god would return.



Germany is credited with starting the tradition we know today of Christmas trees. In the 16th century, devout Christians brought decorated trees into their home. The 1830’s was the first record of a tree being on display by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, but they were often regarded as Pagan or evil and not accepted by most Americans. A lot of myths surround some of the original Christmas trees in America.


One myth claims that Martin Luther, one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation, spread the word that pine trees represented the goodness of God. Another myth describes a Saint from the 8th century, who cut down a fir tree and hung it upside down, to represent the Holy Trinity. All of these stories helped the Christmas tradition spread into popular culture.


By 1850, Christmas trees had grown from a simple winter decoration to celebrate the holiday within family homes and were soon sold commercially in the United States. By the 1890’s Christmas ornaments and decorations were arriving from Germany, and the evergreen tree became a long-lasting holiday tradition. However, there were a few differences between European and American Christmas trees – height! In Europe, trees were smaller and only about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.



Christmas Trees Today

Christmas trees have grown into a universal symbol of Christmas, and grandiose trees are displayed in important places, like the White House and Rockefeller center. The National Christmas Tree in the white house began with President Calvin Coolidge with a 48-foot Balsam Fir from Vermont, decorated with 2,500 bulbs of red, white, and green. The annual tree lighting remains a beloved holiday event in Washington, DC.


For more than eight decades, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree stood as a holiday beacon for New Yorkers and visitors. The lights, decorations, and stars have changed through the years, and the tree is normally around 75 feet tall and originates from varying states. An estimated 125 million visit the tree each year.


While we can’t help you once the tree is in your living room, at Front Range Arborists we do our best to take care of the trees, shrubs, and plants in your backyard. From pruning, to fertilization, to pest control, we do it all to ensure your trees are in good health. Contact us today for a free estimate!