The concept of the Christmas Tree originated around 3000
B.C. in ancient Egypt with King Osiris and Queen Isis.
After the untimely death of King Osiris, his wife, Isis,
propagated the demonic doctrine of the survival of Osiris
as a spirit. She claimed a full-grown evergreen tree sprang
overnight from a dead stump, symbolizing the new life of
the Osiris spirit from his death. On each anniversary of
Osirisí birth, which was the date we now know as
December 25th, Isis would leave gifts around this tree.
During the Middle Ages, the Germans believed the
evergreen trees were especially imbued with life since
they remained green throughout all of winter. Greenery
was prominent in winter celebrations in honour of
the tree spirit or spirit of fertility.
The Romans trimmed the trees with trinkets and toys at
that time of year. The Druids tied gilded apples to tree
branches. For many, a tree decorated with orbs and fruit-
like objects symbolized the tree of life in the garden of
Eden. Some of the items with which the first Christmas
trees were decorated: included paper roses, apples,
Communion wafers, gold, foil, sweets, and dolls. Not all
Christians approved of these trees, even in the beginning.
The first mention of lights (candles) on a Christmas tree
was in the seventeenth century. The Christmas tree made
its royal debut in England when Prince Albert of Saxony,
Queen Victoria's husband, set up a tree in Windsor Castle
in 1841. After this it grew in popularity, although in 1850
Charles Dickens was still referring to it as a "new German
toy." Bringing greenery into one's home, often at the time
of the winter solstice, symbolized life in the midst of death
in many cultures.
From the eleventh century, religious plays called "mystery
plays" became quite popular throughout Europe. One of
the most prevalent of these plays was the "Paradise play."
The play depicted the story of the creation of Adam and
Eve, their sin, and their banishment from Paradise. The
only prop on stage was the "Paradise tree," a fir tree
adorned with apples. From this tree, at the appropriate
time in the play, Eve would take the fruit, eat it, and give
it to Adam. The Paradise tree symbolized both a tree of
sin and a tree of life. For this reason, the people would
decorate these trees with apples and homemade wafers.
Later, candy and sweets were added.
Another custom to be found in the homes of Christians
was a large candle called the "Christmas light," symbolizing
Christ who is the light of the world, which was lit on
Christmas Eve. In Germany, many smaller candles were
set upon a wooden pyramid and lit. Besides the candles,
other objects such as glass balls, tinsel, and the "star of
Bethlehem" were placed on its top. The Paradise tree
became our Christmas tree. Decorations that had been
placed on the pyramids were transferred to the tree. Mark
Carr in New York City set up the first retail Christmas
tree stand in 1851. Franklin Pierce was the first president
to introduce the Christmas tree to the White House in 1856.
Nowadays 35 - 40 million live trees are purchased and
decorated in the United States alone.