Wednesday, December 14, 2005

O Tannenbaum

This morning my friend Grace, the artist, emails: "I'm irritated by the flap over the "Christmas" Tree. A decorated tree predates Jesus' birth. It is a pagan custom adapted by Christian missionaries so that new converts wouldn't have to abandon their traditions. That is also the reason that Jesus' birthday was made to coincide w/ the Winter Solstice." And what a flap it is! You can Google "pagan" + "Christmas tree" and find oodles of sites offering completely opposing views about this subject.

From my studies about the Victorian Age, during which I fell in love with Albert, I remembered that Albert is generally thought to have been the one to introduce the Tannenbaum, or Christmas Tree, to England. It was until then a "foreign" custom. The Victorians went wild with the whole concept and they produced those wonderfully sappy (get it?), over-done sentimental ornaments that we so love today.

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So, I then Googled "Victorian" + "Christmas tree" and found this wonderful site put up by the University of Illinois Extension. There's lots of things to explore and learn from this site, like ...

"The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles."


"Since 1971, the Province of Nova Scotia has presented the Boston Christmas Tree to the people of Boston in gratitude for the relief supplies received from the citizens of Boston after a ship exploded in 1917 following a collision in the Halifax, Nova Scotia Harbor. Part of the city was leveled killing and injuring thousands."

and even a link to another site detailing the best way to photograph your Christmas tree.

Are you planning to have a tree this year? What kind? Real or artificial, green or flocked? Multi-colored lights or all white, or all one color? What size? Or maybe this just isn't for you? My ex-husband just put a single white bulb on a sign in the yard that said "Bah, Humbug."