Why Do We Have Christmas Trees and Who Introduced Them to England

Last update: 2 months ago

a decorated Christmas tree

With the Christmas season just around the corner, squares and shops alike are starting to fill in with the familiar lights, decoration and music. But have you ever stopped for a second and wondered where our Christmas traditions came from?

Christmas trees, both artificial or real, have become an integral part of the festive season. Each year we bring them inside our homes for the holidays and decorate them with colourful ornaments and lights. In truth, few of us know the real reason behind why we decorate Christmas trees and who brought this custom to Britain.

To find out the curious reason why we have Christmas trees and who introduced them to England, read on. We have prepared some fascinating stories for you.

Why do we have Christmas trees?

Evergreen trees have come a long way until they became the decorative Christmas trees we are used to seeing today. In fact, this tradition has pagan roots.

Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews used to worship conifers for their ability to stay green and fresh all year round and that is why they used to place evergreen needles, wreaths and garlands in their homes as a symbol of eternal life, as well as a source of life in the cold, dark nights of wintertime.

At the same time, tree worshipping was also widespread among Europeans. Yule Trees were set up by Germanic people at the entrance of their homes during the midwinter festivals. Even after the conversion to Christianity, evergreen trees managed to survive and find their place amid Christian traditions.

For example, people from Scandinavia tended to put evergreens in their homes or barns on New Year as a means of scaring off the Devil. Evergreen trees were also set up for the birds during the colder months.

But which country started the tradition of Christmas trees?

The origins of the more modern tradition of decorating Christmas trees with ornaments, lights and garments are traced to the European region. The old custom is known to have been started in Germany, however, Latvia and Estonia still have claims on it.

According to Latvia, the Christmas tree tradition was started by a merchant guild, known as the House of the Black Heads, who in 1510 brought an evergreen tree into the city, decorated it and later on, burnt it down.

At the same time, Estonia objects to the Latvian allegations, claiming that the same merchant guild introduced a similar festival in the country’s capital city Tallinn in 1441. At any rate, however, none of those claims has been proven by historians.

Having said that, the country that has the strongest claims on starting the tradition of Christmas trees and spreading it to the rest of the world is Germany. It is believed that the custom was inspired by the paradise tree from the Garden of Eden, featured in medieval plays about Adam and Eve.

Another theory suggests that the Christmas tree was inspired by the Christmas pyramids, wooden structures decorated with conifer twigs and religious figures. Curious though it may seem, the idea of decorating evergreen trees is often credited to the Protestant reformer Martin Luther who is said to be the first one to put candles on Christmas trees.

Who introduced the Christmas tree to England?

By the 18th century, Christmas trees had become a widespread tradition in Germany and it was only a matter of time before the custom reached the British Isles and the rest of the world.

It is believed that Queen Charlotte, a German princess who married King George III, was the first to introduce the German custom to the royal British family in the mid-18th century. However, this fact is not widespread and it wasn’t until Victorian times when the Christmas tree got established as traditional decoration.

Several years later, when Charlotte’s granddaughter Queen Victoria married Albert, a German-born prince, the Christmas tree became a seasonal symbol. This was made possible by an illustration of the royal family gathered around a decorated Christmas tree, published by Illustrated London News in 1848.

Once the royal household of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert adopted the festive tradition, it was only natural for the rest of the British nation to soon follow in their monarchs’ steps. At that time, for Queen Victoria and her husband Albert, who were quite popular and beloved by the people, it was easy to set a trend among both the aristocracy and the common people of England. If the queen had a Christmas tree, everyone else had to have a Christmas tree.

Are you ready for the holidays? Order a real Christmas tree now!

Now when you know why we have Christmas trees during the winter holidays and who introduced them to England, it’s time you think about your own Christmas decoration. As we have already established, a traditional Christmas won’t be the same without a Christmas tree. If you don’t have the time for shopping around, consider booking a Christmas tree delivery. This will save you both time and effort.

Fantastic Gardeners offers delivery of two sustainable tree varieties. You can choose between fresh-cut Nordmann Firs that are known for their non-drop needles or living, pot-grown Norway Spruces that you can plant in your garden after the Christmas holidays. If you need help disposing of your tree after Christmas or transplanting it in your garden, you can also trust our friendly team to help you with that, as well. Order a Christmas tree and have a fresh-looking evergreen delivered to you that will surely bring about holiday cheer in your home.

Get Ready for the Holidays with a Real Christmas Tree by Fantastic Gardeners

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Do you know an interesting fact about Christmas trees? Let us know in the comment section below!

Image source: Shutterstock / Oxik

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