The Christmas tree: From "heathen tradition" to American households

According to the American Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees are up in approximately 94 million homes across America. But do you know the history behind the tradition? 

Before Christianity, evergreen boughs were used to keep away evil spirits, witches, and illness. And according to, Egyptians, Romans, and Vikings also used plants to honor their sun gods during the winter solstice which fell on December 21 or 22 in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, the Christmas tree as we know it started in Germany in the 16th century, when devout Christians decorated trees in their homes. It was German settlers in Pennsylvania who are credited with the first American Christmas tree in the 1830s. 

Christmas trees, however, took a while to catch on. Puritans weren’t exactly known for their fun, and “heathen traditions” such as Christmas carols, decorated trees, and joyous celebrations outside of church were preached against, and in some cases made illegal.

But the Christmas tree was finally en vogue in 1841 when Queen Victoria of Britain and her German husband Prince Albert were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing in front of their Christmas tree. 

Europeans Christmas trees were traditionally around four feet high, but America has a penchant for doing everything bigger and better. So as the popularity grew, so did the average size. Soon Christmas trees were stretching from floor to ceiling all across the country. 

Of course as the accessibility of electricity grew, so did the lights. And by the 1930s, electric Christmas lights were common in most households. And that familiar Christmas glow…

the Christmas tree became an American tradition forever. 

Watch the video to spruce up on your Christmas tree knowledge.