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"O,Christmas Tree...O,Christmas Tree...How Lovely are Thy Branches"
This year over 33 million American families will celebrate the holidays with the fragrance and beauty of a real Christmas tree.
The tree, used as a symbol of life, is a tradition older than Christianity and not exclusive to any one religion. It's a part of our holiday customs that engages not only our senses of sight, touch, and smell, but also our sense of tradition, hope and good will.
Long before there was a Christmas, Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes on the shortest day of the year in December as a symbol of life's triumph over death.
Romans adorned their homes with evergreens during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honor of Saturnus, their god of agriculture. Druid priests decorated oak trees with golden apples for their winter solstice festivities.
In the middle ages, the Paradise tree, an evergreen hung with red apples, was the symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve held on December 24th.
The first recorded reference to the Christmas tree dates back to the 16th century. In Strasbourg, Germany (now part of France), families both rich and poor decorated fir trees with colored paper, fruits and sweets. The retail Christmas tree lot also dates back that far - in those times, older women would sell trees harvested from nearby forests.
The tradition spread through Europe and was brought to the United States by German settlers and by Hessian mercenaries paid to fight in the Revolutionary War. In 1804 U.S.soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) hauled trees from surrounding woods to their barracks at Christmas.
The popularity of the Christmas tree then proliferated. Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842. In 1851, Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds loaded with trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York and opened the first retail lot in the United States.
Which is your favorite kind of Christmas tree?
People in the United States and Canada usually choose the balsam fir, the black spruce, or the Douglas fir.
People in Britian, Germany, and most of Europe like the silver fir and the Norway spruce.
And the hardy Scots (or Scotch pine) is becoming a favorite with many people in both North America and Europe.
Some Tree Decorations...
Chandelier prisms make beautiful icicle ornaments for your Christmas tree!
Coat a faded glass ball ornament with white glue, roll in glitter and hang to dry! Instant sparkle!
Buy clear glass Christmas bulbs and fill with potpourri, sparkles or your own creative idea. Top with ribbon, pearl beads and tiny ribbon silk flowers.
Tuck bunches of fresh/dried babies breath in the branches. Other dried flowers work nicely!
String popcorn and cranberries together. It's easier if you let the popcorn sit out for 24 hours and use dental floss.
Buy several different kinds and sizes of ribbons, make bows and drape them through the tree like garland.
Use fabric strips to make bows and give your tree a homespun/country feel.
Make gingerbread shapes to use as ornaments. Dried apples and oranges make beautiful garlands or ornaments.
Spray gold paint on pinecones to give an elegant touch.
Buy small lace doilies, put them in a solution of glue and water, let dry. This will stiffen them so they can hang like snowflakes on the tree.
Make several theme trees and put them around the house (any size will do) and use your creativity and imagination coming up with different and unusual themes!
Some Christmas Tree Links
Grow A Christmas Tree
Rafi's Tree Lot
© 1998,1999 ~ Nancy Alison ~
"O Christmas Tree"