Many decorate a living or artificial tree in their homes once a year and we call it a Christmas tree. Christmas and Christmas trees, as we celebrate them today was not always the norm. At one point in history, the celebration of Christmas or the baking of mincemeat pies was banned in Massachusetts and Connecticut because if it's Pagan origins. In 1851, parishioners in Ohio were condemned as a pagan practice for decorating a Christmas tree.
Many are not aware that the decorated tree precedes Christianity by centuries. Many people admired winter trees and some even believed that the evergreens would keep witches, evil spirits, and illness away. Many believe that December 25th was chosen as the Christmas holiday in order to take the holiday away from the Pagans. Evergreens used to be coined as the paradise tree and decorated with apples, nuts and paper flowers during the middle ages.
The Christmas tree traditions are actually credited to Germany in 1521. The first record of the Christmas tree in American was in Bethlehem, PA in the 1700's. It was said to be set up for children in the German Moravian churches. Christians would decorate Christmas trees in their homes. They would use wood to build pyramids and decorate them with evergreens and candles.
Martin Luther was believed to be the one to add candles or lights to the Christmas tree. He put up a tree in the main room of his home and decorated it's branches with candles to share with his family, the beauty he saw in the stars against the evergreens on his walk home that night.
By the 18th and 19th century the Christmas tree customs had become common in upper Rhineland. It was no longer considered a Pagan custom, it was now believed to be a Protestant custom. In 1846 is was believed that Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria brought a Christmas tree to the royal family in the Windsor Castle.
The Christmas tree customs were rare in America until the 19th century. The first Christmas tree shop was in New York. The store was opened by Mark Carr in 1851. The first Christmas tree in the white house was brought in by president Franklin Pierce in 1856 for Sunday school kids. At the White House, in 1923 the first national Christmas tree was lit.
The Christmas tree was said to represent life indoors during the winter months. Christmas trees used to be bought on December 24th or on Christmas Eve, set up and decorated in the home, then 12 days after, on January 6th or the twelfth night, they were taken down and removed from the homes. To have a Christmas tree set up and decorated in your home not between these days was considered to bring bad luck.
Fir or Abies is a common tree used to set up as a Christmas tree, because it is said that they will not lose needles when they dry out. Christmas trees used to be taken from a wild forest, but now they are mostly harvested from commercial tree farms. It takes about 10 years for a Christmas tree to be grown. It is then cut down and another is replanted. You can recycle your Christmas tree into a compost pile, place it in your back yard as shelter for animals or have it removed by your community recycle service. You may also use your old Christmas tree as fire wood to heat your home. Another alternate is to use a artificial Christmas tree to decorate your home during the winter holiday.