12 December 2018
From a fantastic fir to a splendid spruce, the Christmas tree is a well -loved and well-decorated feature of most of our Christmases. But did you know that our Christmas trees actually are actually a modern invention and an exotic, European import?
In Britain since medieval times, homes had been decorated with boughs of seasonal greenery such as holly, ivy and mistletoe. However festive decorating took a dive in the 17th century when under Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, Christmas and Christmas decorations were banned!
Our ‘modern’ Christmas trees are evergreens - that is spruce, pine and fir. The tradition of decorating a tree at Christmas came from Germany. Wealthy Protestant families decorated their homes with a handsome fir tree festooned with candles, apples, nuts, paper and flowers.
This gorgeous tree tradition at Christmas was introduced to us by our royals. Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, the wife of George III was the first royal to introduce a Christmas tree in 1800. Queen Victoria, who was also of German descent, certainly would have had been familiar with Christmas tree traditions as a child. After Queen Victoria and Prince Albert married in 1841, the custom spread to the middle classes around Britain. Having an exotic new-fangled ‘Christmas tree’ was a sign of wealth and status.
We’ve been loving Christmas trees ever since. These days approximately 8 million trees are grown in the UK to decorate our homes at this special time of year.
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