When it comes to Christmas trees; what type of family are you? Does your family believe that it’s never too early to put a tree up? Or do you prefer to wait until two weeks before or one week before the big day? For those of us that prefer a fresh, local tree; most of us wait until one to two weeks before Christmas to put the tree up. At BC Farm Fresh; we’re a two week before Christmas family.
Our traditions around Christmas trees began thousands of years ago. People used to bring evergreen branches into their homes at Winter solstice to remind them that the dark days of winter would end soon and spring would come again. Even Romans used evergreen branches to decorate their temples.
Fir trees were probably first used in Northern Europe about one thousand years ago; but get this; many homes hung their trees upside down from the ceiling using chains. Northern Europeans would also bring Hawthorne and cherry plants into their homes to try to force them into flower for Christmas. Those norther winters are long and dark!
The first documented use of a tree at Christmas is disputed. The cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia both claim that they were the first. Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. Both trees were put up by the ‘Brotherhood of Blackheads’ which was an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners in Livonia (what is now Estonia and Latvia).
In many European countries, early Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread, candy, chocolate, and gold covered apples. The traditions are still carried on today in many countries.
The first Christmas trees came to Britain sometime in the 1830s. They became very popular in 1841, when Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert had a Christmas tree set up in Windsor Castle. In Victorian times, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees.
Ralph Morris, an American telephonist, invented the first electric Christmas lights in 1895 because of the fire danger of having candles on trees.
Christmas trees thousands of years of tradition and a wonderful part of Christmas celebrations!
Christmas tree photo courtesy of Minter Gardens.
The Farm Fresh Reference Guide is produced by the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association in cooperation with the BC Ministry of Agriculture.
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