Christmas Trees Have Own History

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

Christmas Trees Have Own History


Byline: Katherine Hamilton-Smith

The origin of Christmas trees dates back to the seventh century and the evangelical work of a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, on the south coast of England.

Legend has it that this monk traveled to Germany to spread the Gospel, and while he was there used the shape of the fir tree to signify the Christian trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But what about artificial Christmas trees? When did they come on the scene?

As with so many aspects of our modern idea of Christmas, the first artificial trees came from Germany. In the 1800s, trees made from wire and feathers became available. Goose feathers were the most popular, sometimes dyed green to resemble real fir boughs. The feathers were attached to metal wire boughs, which in turn were attached to a wooden trunk. The whole assembly looked very different from our modern trees because the boughs were so sparsely distributed along the trunk. The lack of fullness allowed for maximum display of ornaments. Feather trees were mostly sized for tabletop use, as was common for Christmas trees in the 1800s and even into the early 1900s.

In the 1950s and '60s, the Addis Brush Company, makers of toilet bowl brushes, offered an aluminum Christmas tree, perfectly suited to the Jetson's style of decor in the mid-century.

The "Silver Pine" tree was sold with a revolving spotlight, used to shed alternating gold, green, red, and blue light onto the tree. People were encouraged to decorate the tree with shiny, solid color glass balls all of a single color per tree. …

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