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The History And Tradition Of Christmas Trees

By Chinelo Eze
25 December 2021   |   3:20 pm
Hey, I’ve caught Christmas fever, can you blame me? Well, as we all look towards that one day called Christmas, there has been tons of preparation leading up to that one significant day. The day most Christians unite in hope of the promise of a saviour. Christmas is a beautiful holiday that everyone appreciates. In…

Hey, I’ve caught Christmas fever, can you blame me? Well, as we all look towards that one day called Christmas, there has been tons of preparation leading up to that one significant day. The day most Christians unite in hope of the promise of a saviour.

Christmas is a beautiful holiday that everyone appreciates. In the spirit of the season, many elements come to play, which accompany the Christmassy feel that is most sought after at this time.

Taking a walk on the streets, you will find that everyone and everything is tuned to Christmas. Planning for Christmas is a big deal for some. Therefore, they ensure their spaces have festive vibes. From snowmen to Santa Claus, to reindeer, to nativity scenes and Christmas wreaths.

The Christmas trees, shimmery shining lights, Christmas trees hence become a part and parcel of the entities significantly used at such times, therefore, taking their place as culture and traditions of Christmas. Just as green and red have repeatedly become the colours of Christmas.

Kylie’s Christmas tree

Evidently, for hundreds of years since the 1300s, ed and green have been the traditional colours of Christmas. According to a school of thought, because of the “miracle plays,” green began to symbolise the eternal life of Christ as evergreen. Can you guess what red stands for? Yes, his blood.

There is truly an endless amount of Christmas motifs to choose from when decorating the inside of homes for Christmas. All of which is to reenact scenes from the Christian doctrine. But other elements do not exist in the doctrines that have found their way and have thus become a culture often seen during Christmas.

In Africa specifically, the purview of Nigeria, these elements, both modern and traditional, used in the culture and practices of Christmas are alien to us. Unfortunately, ideas of “Santa Claus” and the likes have become a practised tradition acknowledged universally.

So let us talk about one element used at Christmas time to beautify the backdrop of the moment. And that is the Christmas tree. It seems like Christmas is not complete without a Christmas family tree. The green triangular structure has a high standing in the culture and practices of Christmas.

The Christmas tree tradition is attributed to the symbolic use of ancient Egypt and Rome. Back then, it was believed that evergreens would ward off witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. This tradition was then tweaked by the Germans in the 16th century who began to light up Christmas trees. Then it moved to America in the 1800s, although it was first an oddity because the Americans idea in the the1840s about Christmas trees was that they were pagan symbols.

Despite the rocky beginnings of the Christmas tree tradition, a painting surfaced in 1846 with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Germany standing with their children around a Christmas tree. In the habit of man to imitate people of high esteem and value to society, this immediately became fashionable and spread down like wildfire to other societies.

With this new trend came other intricacies of presence. The Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies to decorate their trees. Americans preferred their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling and embellished their trees mainly with homemade ornaments. In this, we see a disparity in trees, telling a story of roots.

Eventually, the Americans ran with the Christmas tree tradition, adding artificial lighting to keep the trees glowing unlike the traditional way of lighting up with candles by the Germans. Christmas trees also range from either spruce, fir or pine, which is conditioned on what time of the year in different parts of the world.

Again, to these traditions are questions like “when do these trees make an entrance and an exit?” This varies on how people want to do them, but there exists a tradition to this. Traditionally, Christmas trees should stand erect on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. The takedown time is said to be 12 days from Christmas.

In places like England, 12 days from Christmas (25 December), which is 5th January, is believed to be the appropriate time to take down the Christmas tree. While other countries like Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic start their count a day after Christmas, making the count land on January 6th. The name for this important act is called “twelfth night”.

As the emergence of many historic findings, they largely emerged from pagan practices but were later shaped to mean something else for contemporary society. So Christmas trees have significantly taken their places on the streets and homes.

More importantly, Christmas trees have become the starting point of Christmas in homes where families gather around a Christmas tree. This picture has become profound to the celebration of Christmas.

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