O, Christmas Tree
For many families that celebrate Christmas, decorating the Christmas tree is an integral part of the holiday season. But how did this tradition come about? Interestingly, decorating one’s home with evergreens preceded the advent of Christianity. During winter solstice, which falls on December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, ancient Egyptians filled their home with evergreen boughs to celebrate the passing of the shortest (and coldest) day of the year, and to look forward to a fruitful harvest the following spring and summer. Filling their homes with green plants in the dead of winter symbolized to the ancient Egyptians “triumph of life over death”: a message which is echoed in the celebration of modern-day Christianity.
The Christmas tree as we know and love today has its roots in 16th century Germany. During Christmas time, Christians decorated trees inside of their homes to celebrate the birth of Christ. Martin Luther himself is credited with starting the tradition of decorating Christmas trees with lights (at that point – candles). As the story goes, during a walk home one wintery evening, Martin Luther was so struck by the beauty of the stars twinkling through the evergreen trees outside that he decided to replicate the effect in his home.
In 19th century America, most Christians were loath to accept the tradition of decorating Christmas trees, seeing it as “pagan mockery” of the sacred holiday. In fact, Massachusetts Puritans were even fined for hanging decorations; the only allowed observance of the holiday was a rather stoic church service. By the 1890’s, in part due to the influence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who had an affinity for Christmas trees, Christmas trees became more popular and widely accepted in the United States. Today, the most widely-recognized Christmas tree in the U.S. is the one that adorns Rockefeller Center during the holidays. Across the country, nearly 100 million households – 78% of all households – display a Christmas tree.
Decorating the Christmas tree is a time for family and togetherness. Oftentimes, it is an opportunity to reflect on past memories and celebrations. The act of decorating gives people the opportunity to pause and reflect on the true meaning of the season, as well as to give thanks for the blessings in their life. We wish you all a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas.
Pictured are a few of Mercury One’s Christmas Trees that our staff treasures daily.
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