O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
When the lights of New York’s hallmark Christmas tree spring to life at Rockefeller Center for the first time each year, it is not just children’s eyes that light up. It is also a social highlight that many VIPs just can’t resist either. This year’s tree rises 24 metres into the air. And even if your tree won’t reach such heights, it still generates the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is the festival of love. The simple act of decorating the tree brings the family together. Christmas tree baubles, ornaments shaped like stars, angels or hearts, straw stars and, of course, candles – increasingly as LEDs – are hung on the evergreen’s branches until a, more or less, perfect ensemble of yuletide decorations has been assembled. When it comes to the type of tree that Germans prefer, the choice is, hands down, the Nordmann fir. It makes up about 80 per cent of Christmas trees used in the country.
There used to be more tinsel! (the German comedian Loriot)
The first Christmas baubles were made around 1830 and have been a permanent feature of the tree ever since. People who want to save a little money or use unbreakable baubles can purchase those made of plastic. This may cause traditionalists to pull out their hair, but it is definitely a practical way to approach the holiday. But one thing is increasingly missing from the tree: tinsel, the decorative material developed in Nuremberg in 1878 as a yuletide novelty. The idea was to add something to the tree that looked like glittering icicles. The tree is frequently topped off with a decoration made of glass or a star that symbolises the star of Bethlehem that led the three kings to the baby Jesus.
All traditions aside, the rule of thumb for Christmas trees today is clear: The festive and dazzling tree can simply include anything that pleases the eye of the creator. This can be anything from angels‘ wings and feather-covered baubles to pink figurines made of glass and snow spray – or simply an artificial Christmas tree decked out in pink.
Purists and environmental activists prefer to use another form of reusable tree, the wooden-pallet version. All you need is a few candles or tea lights, and you are set!
The meaning of the Christmas tree
Here’s something to discuss while you are enjoying your Christmas dinner: Just why do we use trees to celebrate Christmas in the first place? Evergreens symbolise the force of life itself. As a result, people believe that it will bring them good health. The first sketches of a Christmas tree used in the way that we decorate them today originate from 1605 in the Alsace region of France. The German writers Goethe, Schiller and E.T.A. Hoffmann mention Christmas trees in their stories. The Christmas tree experienced its breakthrough in the (Christian) world in the first half of the 18th century when Protestant churches made it one of their Christmas customs.