THE CHRISTMAS TREE
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Why do we decorate the Christmas tree? The habit is probably
inherited from the Egyptians that used to decorate their houses with palm tree
leaves in the day of the astrological winter. The habit was taken by the Romans
that used instead of palm trees the conifers.
But the story really begins around the 7th century when a
monk from Devonshire came to Germany to teach the word of the Lord. Legend says
that he used the triangular form of the Christmas tree to symbolize religious
meanings. In the Europe of the 12th century, on Christmas day, the Christmas
tree was installed upside down, hanging down from the ceiling!
It appears the tree was first decorated at Riga in 1510. At the beginning
of the 16Ith century, M. Luther decorated the tree with candles to suggest to
his children the sparklings of the stars in the sky.
At the middle of the 16th century, in Germany, appear the
first markets specialized in selling presents for Christmas, usually food or
objects of practical use.
Christmas decorations that were meant to suggest snow were
invented in Germany in 1610. At that time not only they were silvery, but they
were also made out of silver. There were invented machines to make thin silver
strings for the tree. Silver lasted long but it oxidized very quickly, so they
tried to ally it with cooper and zinc, but the product was so heavy that it just
broke under the action of his own weight. So silver was used till the middle of
the 20th century.
In Great Britain, the Christmas tree came along with
merchants that originated from Germany and settled in England. Decorating the
Christmas tree meant silver ornaments, candles and pearl-like ribbons all
produced in Germany and Eastern Europe at the time. The custom said that every
family member or invited person had to have a little tree placed on the table in
front of him, with the presents besides it.
In 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – both born in Germany - appear in "Illustrated London News", along with their children, all around the Christmas tree. The popularity of the regal family made this custom to spread fast among the people. The tree became a fashion matter not only in the Britain Islands, but also on the eastern coast of America.
Decorations were of a huge variety. Mostly home made because they were expensive at the time. Young ladies spent hours cutting paper snowflakes and stars, folding presents envelopes and paper supports for candy.
In America, the Christmas tree appears around 1747, in German communities from Pennsylvania, but it spreads only along with the development of communications, at the middle of the 19th century.
In 1882 the electric light bowl is invented and in 1892 it is adapted for the Christmas tree.
And so, we
get to our present tree that combines all the elements presented above in the
most ingenious and creative mixtures.
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