Christmas 2017: The Long History of Christmas Tree

REUTERS/Carlos BarriaPresident Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant of Peace ceremony last December 1, 2017.

While most people who celebrate Christmas put up a Christmas tree as their centerpiece for the holiday season, not so many people are aware of the history of the tradition. Nonetheless, history records reveal that the practice of putting up a decorated fir tree for Christmas actually started way back then what most people think.

History records claim that the use of fir trees at wintertime was a way to give warmth and hope to people, specifically to the ancient Romans and Egyptians. It is believed that the bright hue of the plants, such as palm rushes and evergreen boughs, served as a reminder to them that other plants would grow again when spring and summer returned.

Apart from being a reminder of the coming spring and summer, some ancient people and cultures also believed that evergreens were a symbol of everlasting life and had the abilities to shoo evil spirits and illnesses away. This gave rise to the tradition of hanging evergreen boughs above doorways and even inside the homes.

Although unconfirmed reports claim that the first ever Christmas tree was spotted in London back in the 14th century, it is said that it was only a one-time trend as decorated fir trees did not return to Britain until the 19th century.

It is also believed that the German settlers in Pennsylvania were the ones who introduced the Christmas tree tradition to America in the 1820's. After all, back in the 17th century, there had already been Christmas trees in Germany, which became a trend for the holidays after writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe included the idea in his novel "The Sorrows of Young Werther."

The Christmas tree tradition became even more popular when Queen Victoria, German Prince Albert, and their children were shown standing around a Christmas tree in the Illustrated London News in 1846. As Queen Victoria was considered a trendsetter during her time, the popularity of Christmas tree spread in Britain and the East Coast of America.

Today, there is no denying that many households feel that their Christmas celebrations are incomplete without a Christmas tree. Although many people now choose the artificial ones that can be stored and last for years, many still opt for the real fir tree. However, as it has been reported that there is a shortage of real fir trees in America this year, those planning to go for the real deal are advised to get one early for their homes.