Ten Questions: Christmas Tree

Since Christmas is just around the corner I thought it might be good to know why we put up Christmas trees. It turns out that this is a very old tradition.

01. What is a Christmas tree?

The modern Christmas tree is an evergreen tree that is brought into the house and decorated. The decorations include lights, ornaments, tinsel, and garlands according to what the person decorating it likes.

02. How did they decorate trees before there were glass balls and aluminum foil tinsel?

Trees were decorated with apples, figs, dates, candles, whatever was important to the area where they were being decorated.

03. Why have a Christmas tree?

Well you do need some place to put the presents. And they look good. They put people in a holiday mood. They sparkle.

04. Why use evergreen trees?

First of all evergreens have color in the winter. In the old days evergreens were thought to have special powers. Even before Christmas trees houses were decorated with evergreen wreaths and boughs. Some people thought that they had the power to ward off witches and other magical creatures.
Another thought is that because Jesus was born in the winter the evergreen tree represented life in the winter and therefor represents Jesus.

05. When did Christmas trees start?

There are so many stories. It depends on the part of the world you live in what you believe. Here is a good story.
A long time ago a forester and his family were snug inside their humble cottage on a cold Christmas Eve. There was a sudden knock on the door. When they answered it they found a poor little boy. He was cold and hungry. They took him in, fed him, cleaned him uo, and gave him a warm place to sleep. The next morning the family woke to the singing of a choir of angels. And the little boy had become Jesus. As Jesus left he broke a branch from an evergreen tree and handed it to the family. It was his way of saying thank you. Since that time it has become a custom to bring an evergreen tree in the house to honor the poor boy who turned into Jesus.

06. Do the decorations symbolize something?

The lights on the tree symbolize the stars. The original decorations of fruits and candies were to represent the harvest and plenty. They were sometimes called gifts from the Christ child. The ornaments used today represent the food decorations. Tinsel and garlands stand for icicles. Angels and stars at the top of the tree symbolize just what they are... angels and stars.

07. When should I put up my Christmas tree?

Most people put up their trees shortly after Thanksgiving. Some put it up on Christmas Eve so the Santa will leave the presents.

08. When should I take down my tree?

Again most people take down the tree after Christmas. Some take it down the day after. Some leave it up until New Year's. Still others leave the tree up long enough to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas.

09. Does a Christmas tree need care?

Definitely. If you have a real tree you need to make sure it has plenty of water. The drier the tree is the greater the danger of fire. With an artificial tree you still need to make sure that electrical wires and connections don't cause fires or shocks.

10. How should I dispose of the used tree?

Ideally you could use a tree that is ready to plant. Then you can plant it at the right time. In the city they will have assigned days when they will pick up tree carcasses. In a rural area they can be cut an burned in the wood stove or burned in a safe place outside. Artificial trees need to just be put away until next year.