10 December 2007

O Tannenbaum

The tree came to the United States with German immigrants. The Puritans, however, deemed it pagan mockery of the sacred event of Christmas. In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts outlawed any observance of Christmas outside of church services, including Christmas trees, carols, and gifts. Schools in Boston remained open on Christmas day through 1870, sometimes expelling students who stayed home on December 25th. In 1871, a Cleveland minister almost lost his job for allowing a tree in his church.
German and Irish immigrants overcame the disapproval of the pilgrims. A farmer dragged two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City in 1851 and sold them all, creating the first tree market. Ralph E. Morris invented the electric Christmas lights in 1895, making the world a safer place. By 1900, one in five families in North America had Christmas trees, and by 1920, the Christmas tree was nationally recognized as a symbol of Christmas. F.W. Woolworth brought the glass ornament tradition to the U.S. from Germany in 1890, completing the transformation. As early as 1874, Macy’s began their window displays with Christmas themes, and since 1923, the White House has had a Christmas tree on the front lawn every year.

7 comments:

Willowtree said...

Interesting that the Puritans go so uppity about the xmas celebrations, given that the christians commandeered what was essentially a pagan celebration in the first place.

mike said...

Eeenteresting. I'm glad to have some fact instead of the "christian" legends that are so popular in books found in christian bookstores. What do you think about all the decorations for Christmas? yea or nay?

Heather said...

Mike, you're talking to someone who has four Christmas trees in their house. Love the decorations. Of course, if it stresses someone out to put up decorations, it's not worth it. For me, it's putting up memories because each piece and each tree ornament has a memory.
WT--I have no problem admitting that Christmas was hijacked from Saturnalia and other similar Winter Solstice celebrations. I don't worry about losing the "true meaning of Christmas." I love Christmas and have fun with it. I also use it as a time as Advent--waiting. We're waiting again.

Josh and Mandi said...

Nice! I always wondered why someone long ago thought to chop down a perfectly good tree (thereby killing it), and then sell it to someone else who bought it. Ceci est pourquoi nous sommes des amis!

e-Mom said...

Thanks for the refresher on the origin of the Christmas tree. They're a wonderful secular tradition that brighten the darkest days of December.

Blessings, e-Mom @ Chrysalis :~D

Jenny said...

Think I'll share this with my class--you font of info you:-)

Pamela said...

I've read about the tree and it's beginning in Germany, but I hadn't heard the info on it's arrival in North America.

I do know that the changes in the celebration during my life time have been phenomenal.