The Traditions of Christmas

December 16 , 2004

Have you ever wondered where the Christmas tree tradition began? It is believed that the Christmas tree began with St. Boniface in the 8th century. Others attribute the origin of the Christmas tree to Martin Luther. According to legend, Martin Luther wanted to share the beauty of the stars out on a winter night with his wife, so he cut down a small fir tree and decorated it with candles to symbolize the Christmas sky. Another legend states that Germans combined two older traditions of the Paradise Tree and the Christmas Light frame to form what we know today as the Christmas tree.

The tradition of the Christmas tree can be found all over the world. For instance, in Mexico, a decorated Christmas tree is incorporated with Nacimiento (Nativity scene). In Greenland, trees are imported because trees do not grow that far north. Norwegians have been known to go into the woods to select and cut a tree. In Spain, Catalonia is a Christmas tradition where a tree trunk is filled with treats and children hit at the trunk to try and get the treats out. Filipinos hand make trees in many colors and sizes. In Japan, Christmas trees are decorated with small toys and paper ornaments.

Many of our Christmas traditions have come from ancient cultures and practices. Some of these practices have been known to predate Christ. The ancient uses of greenery in celebrating the winter solstice are still present today. This practice originated with the Druid, Celt, Norse and Roman civilizations. In these cultures, the color green symbolized eternal life and the circular wreath represented the cycle of life as well as victory and honor. These traditions were so deeply ingrained within these cultures that they were incorporated in the celebration of Christmas and are still used today.

Facts and Trivia:

  • Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.
  • 77 million Christmas trees are planted each year.
  • Christmas trees take 6-8 years to mature.
  • Most trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet.
  • The best selling trees are the Scotch pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine.
  • 31 percent of U.S. household purchased a real tree in 2000 and 49 percent displayed an artificial tree.
  • In the nineteenth century, most Americans cut their Christmas trees from nearby forests. Today, 98 percent of all trees are grown on farms.
  • In 1926, Congress designated the General Grant sequoia tree (located in Kings Canyon National Park) as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.” Proclaimed a National Shrine by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, the General Grant tree is a living memorial to the men and women of the United States who have given their lives in service to their country. Each year at the annual Christmas ceremony, park rangers place a large wreath at the base of the tree. The General Grant tree is over 267 feet tall, 40 feet across at its base, and over 107 feet in circumference. Estimates of its age range from 1,500 to 2,000 years.



Santa Ynez Valley Tree Care
P.O. Box 1147, Santa Ynez, California 93460

(805) 688-5580

[Home] [About Us] [Choosing a Contractor] [Licensing] [References] [Proper Pruning]
[Why Topping Hurts] [Mature Tree Care] [Newspaper Articles] [Magazine Articles]