Someone asked “Why do we decorate a Christmas tree?”
“There are few traditions that are most associated with Christmas than decorating a tree. Most people do this every year without stopping to wonder why this has become a tradition. After all decorated fir trees have little to do with the birth of Christ. Like most Christmas traditions the story of where the tree came from is complicated and is based on the traditions of several different places.
The legend of the Christmas tree goes back to the seventh century when St. Boniface travelled to northern Germany in order to convert the pagan tribes of the area to Christianity. The belief was that he used the triangular shape of the fir tree as a teaching aid to explain the holy trinity. While this is the legend for where Christmas trees come from there is very little actual evidence to support this belief. The stories about St. Boniface would not appear to until many centuries later.
What we can say for sure about the history of Christmas Trees is that they first appeared in the early part of the sixteenth century in Riga in present day Latvia. The would quickly spread throughout Northern Germany. It is not clear why they started to decorating trees but it does seem that they were used to attract people to Christmas fairs. These were fairs that allowed merchants to sell gifts, food and other items in the days leading up to Christmas. Apparently decorated trees were used as a way to attract visitors to the various merchants locations at the fair. This of course lead to merchants trying to outdo their competitors in terms of decoration.
The Christmas tree remained largely a German tradition for several centuries until it was introduced in Canada during the American revolution. During this time German soldiers fighting on behalf of the British were stationed in Canada to protect it from American invasion and they started decorating trees at Christmas time. Not long after this the Christmas tree would start to appear in England as King George III was from Germany and brought many traditions with him. That being said Christmas trees didn’t really become popular in England until the reign of Queen Victoria.
Once Christmas trees were common in Britain they soon spread around the world thanks to the large empire that the British had. As a result the Christmas tree is now fairly common everywhere. The actual customs about which trees are used, how the are decorated and when they are put up and taken down will vary from country to another but the idea of having a Christmas tree is now fairly wide spread. Even this is starting to become much more standardized as the move towards artificial trees has resulted in most people around the world using the same decorations on their tree.”