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The History of the Christmas Tree

Have you ever wondered how the humble Christmas tree came to be?


You might be surprised to know that our modern Scottish Christmas trees actually originated in Germany and didn’t become fashionable in the UK until the 19th century. This weekend marks the halfway point to Christmas 2018, so to celebrate we’re delving little deeper into the history of the Christmas trees that we love so dearly!


A Symbol of Eternal Life

The evergreen tree has long been used as a symbol for eternal life and trees were a prominent feature in many ancient pagan rituals. After their conversion to Christianity, the tree continued to be an important symbol. Scandinavian tradition, for example, dictated that families should have a tree for birds to nest in at Christmastime and homes be decorated with evergreens to ward off the devil for the new year.


The First Modern Christmas Trees

The first modern Christmas trees were seen in 16th century Germany, where dedicated Christians brought decorated fir trees into their homes to celebrate the Christmas period. The practice was not, however, instantly adopted by the rest of the western world, as many British and American Christians still associated the evergreen with what they deemed to be the savagery of pagan ritual.


Festive Fashionistas

It was not until 1846, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert put up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, that the custom really took off in the rest of the western world. The fashionable Queen Victoria was also popular with the East Coast aristocracy of the United States, who then went on to adopt the modern Christmas tree.

True to style, our friends across the pond liked their Christmas trees to be larger than life, with firs commonly stretching from floor to ceiling. In the UK, Christmas trees were more modest, with household trees averaging at around 4 feet tall.


Edinburgh Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Decorations

Although the original German trees were traditionally decorated with fruit, nuts and baked cookies, the growing popularity of the modern Christmas tree across the globe increased the demand for handmade decorations. Germany became a prominent producer of Christmas tree decorations, supplying both Great Britain and the United States with glittering yuletide ornaments. Today, the town of Rothenburg is famous for its legendary Christmas shop and attracts 1.5 million visitors every year. ‘Käthe Wohlfahrt’, commonly known as ‘The Christmas Village’ is open all year round and boasts a 16 foot Christmas tree inside the store.


Christmas Trees Across The World

Today, the Christmas tree as we know it takes many different forms across the world. In Brazil, where Christmas falls in the summer months, it’s common to decorate evergreen trees with cotton wool balls to represent falling snow. Whereas we like to decorate our Scottish Christmas trees in sparkling tinsel and brightly coloured baubles, with Christmas lights to brighten up the cold, winter months.


Can’t wait ’til Christmas? There are only 6 months to go! Our home-grown Scottish Christmas trees will be available to reserve online in the Christmas Shop from early December, so watch this space! In the meantime, you can join in with our Christmas countdown on Facebook.