The Origin of Christmas Trees


Zachary Ruckle and Kayla Cumming


By Zachary Ruckle and Kayla Cumming


Have you ever wondered why we bring a tree into the house and decorate it during Christmas? Where did this tradition come from? Well, we’ve researched to find the answer to this question.


Pagans in Europe originally used evergreen branches to decorate their houses to bring up their spirits during the winter solstices. Early Romans also used evergreen branches to decorate temples at the festival of Saturnalia. The pagans had the idea of bringing the tree into the house, but why? “The idea of bringing the evergreen into the house represents fertility and new life in the darkness of winter, which was more of the pagan themes,” stated Dr. Dominique Wilson from the University of Sydney.


From Pagan custom to Christianity, one theory on how the Christmas tree became a Christian tradition is that a Missionary in Germany named Benedict Monk Boniface, famous for his missionary work in Germany. The story goes that he came across some Germans making a sacrifice in front of a mighty oak tree. Oak trees were sacred to the god Thor. Boniface grabbed an ax and chopped down the tree to try and stop the Pagans from worshiping a false god. The Pagans waited for him to get struck by lightning, but it never happened. He ended up converting them to Christianity. The story also says that a fir tree grew from the chopped-down oak tree. The fir tree ended up becoming the symbol of Christ. The triangular shape represents the trinity. But that is just one of the many stories about how it became a Christian symbol.


Modern Christmas trees emerged in the 16th century when Christians would bring Christmas trees into their house and decorate them with gingerbread, nuts, and apples. In the 17th century is when decorating began. When the big royal courts and festivals had the trees decorated with candles, gold leaves, and paper decorations, and of how popular it got, it started to spread across Europe in the early 19th century. Eventually, the Germans moved to other places throughout the world, and the tradition started to spread. But in places like the United States, people often saw having a Christmas tree as a foreign Pagan custom.


 Though the Christmas tree started to become popular, not everyone was decorating it fully. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made the Christmas tree more popular in the 1840s and 1850s when a drawing of the royal family standing around a fully decorated tree was published. From that point, people started decorating their trees much more