A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine or fir which is cut down and usually brought indoors in celebration of the Christmas festival. The practice originated in Northern Europe. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia), and in early modern Germany when the German Protestants started bringing their trees into their homes. The custom acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
The tree was traditionally decorated with roses made of coloured paper, apples, wafers, tinsel and sweetmeats. In the 18th century, the Christmas Tree began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments such as baubles and tinsel, and not forgetting the angel or star at the top of the tree spire. The Angel Gabriel or Star of Bethlehem are representations from the Nativity.
In Western Christian tradition, the Christmas Tree is erected at varying times such as the first day of Advent or even as late as Christmas Eve, depending on the country. Many customs hold that there are two traditional days when the tree and decorations are taken down. One of the days is the Twelfth Night (January 5th) and, if not taken down on that day, there are some denominations in some countries that will not take down until Candlemas (40 days after the birth of Jesus), which ends the Christmas -Epiphany season.
Having been brought up in a large-family working-class household, where having sufficient to wear and eat were considered the height of luxury, we never had a natural tree in our home to celebrate Christmas and for most of my development, we brought out our small artificial tree one week before Christmas Day and stood it our window sill. In fact, I cannot recall ever seeing a natural Christmas Tree in the home of any Windybank-Estate resident during the 50s and early 60s.
When I grew up, married and had my own family, I swore that there would never be a Christmas with me in it again when a natural Christmas Tree did not adorn the house that I lived in. Ever since I had my first property, I have had a custom of declaring the season of Christmas to have officially started ‘after the natural Christmas Tree has been put up, electrified and decorated’, and not one minute before. Because I already know that my wife Sheila does not share this fervour I have about natural Christmas trees and will probably do without one in the home when I am gone, I have made a point of planting a Christmas Tree in the centre of our allotment, so that she will never be without a natural Christmas Tree every December of her remaining life. All she will have to do is to erect my Angel on top of its spire annually.
Love and peace. Bill xxx