The history of the Christmas tree, and why it became a popular holiday tradition

The Christmas tree tradition started before Christianity

From the tree that stands tall and beautiful in Rockefeller Center to the humble Charlie Brown Christmas tree, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditional tree.

Christmas trees are part of the Christmas spirit, but when and how did this all become such a staple in the Christmas tradition?

It all started before Christianity.

The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere usually falls in late December.

Ancient people like the Egyptians, Romans and Vikings all decorated the solstice with evergreen boughs because it symbolized everlasting life.

Fast forward to Christianity and the celebration of Christmas, also in December.

In the 16th century, Germans are credited for starting the tradition and bringing decorated trees into their homes for Christmas.

So how did the tradition end up in the U.S.?

We can thank the Germans again for that. The first record of one being on display in America dates to the 1830s with German settlers in Pennsylvania.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The first Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center was in 1931.

Workers at the Rockefeller Center construction site put their money together for a 20-foot Christmas tree because they were thankful to have jobs during the great depression.

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