why do we have a christmas tree
When you think of Christmas, one of the first images to spring to mind is probably a Christmas tree, covered in twinkly decorations, lights and tinsel. But where did the tradition of having a fir tree in our house and decorating it like this come from? Many people think the tradition of Christmas trees in Britain started with the Victorians. This refers to the time when Queen Victoria was on the throne, from 1837 until 1901. Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were known to be very big fans of Christmas! However, the tradition actually dates back further than that. It originally came from Germany, where Prince Albert was actually born, and was introduced to England during the Georgian period, when King George III was on the throne. He had a German wife called Charlotte, who it is thought used to decorate a tree for her family in the 1790s. But Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are said to be the ones who made it extremely popular and fashionable to decorate a tree at Christmas like this, which is why a lot of people think that they started the tradition in Britain. At first, people used to put their trees on tables, as they were smaller. But when it became possible to get bigger trees from Norway, people began to put their trees on the floor, with presents underneath. The reason that fir trees are traditionally used is because they are evergreen, which means they are still bright green with lots of leaves - even during the winter. Traditional Christmas trees are evergreens, which means they keep their bright, green leaves in the winter, unlike other trees
Ever since 1947, Norway has donated a tree to London to say thank you for helping them during World War II. A special ceremony is held in Norway in November, when the tree is cut down in the forest in Norway.
Then, it comes over to the UK by sea, before being driven to London on a big lorry. The Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen and the Lord Mayor of Westminster Steve Summers cut down 2016's Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in Oslo, Norway It is then put up in Trafalgar Square in London using a special crane. It is decorated in the traditional Norwegian way, with strings of lights going down the tree, rather than criss-crossing it. No household can really seem entirely festive at Christmastime without a beautifully decorated tree - and whichever type you choose, for many putting up a Christmas tree marks the true start of the festive season. But in case you have ever wondered where the tradition came from, when it took off in this country and why we even have Christmas trees at all, here's everything you need to know about the festive favourite. Which trees are used as Christmas trees, and why? Christmas trees are almost always evergreen conifers, notably fir, pine or spruce. Evergreen tree branches and boughs have been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years - the fir in particular was used as its green tendrils would remind people of the return of growth in the fields at springtime. For the same reason, Romans used fir tree branches to decorate their homes and temples at the festival of Saturnalia. It was also believed that evergreen boughs hung over windows and doorways would ward off evil spirits and illness. What's Britain's most popular variety of Christmas tree? Traditionally in Britain the Norway spruce was the most popular variety of tree, but its short, pointed needles are prone to dropping quickly, leaving the tree bare by the big day if not correctly cared for.
As as result the flat-needled Nordmann fir and the the silver-hued Blue spruce have overtaken the Norway spruce in terms of UK sales, while the fragrant Fraser fir - which bears a similarity to the Norway spruce but holds its needles longer - is also increasing in popularity. When were Christmas trees first used? It's difficult to be certain when trees were first brought into homes specifically to celebrate Christmas, but the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia both claim the 'first' Christmas tree was planted in their town squares, danced around by locals and then set on fire; Tallinn says this first happened in 1441, Riga in 1510. A German picture from 1521 shows a tree being paraded through the streets with a man, possibly dressed as St Nicholas, riding a horse behind it. One story cites 16th century preacher Martin Luther as the first person to bring a tree into his home; the religious reformer apparently saw stars shining through the branches of a fir while he was out walking, which he said brought to mind Jesus leaving the stars of heaven to come to Earth at Christmas. When did Christmas trees start to be decorated? Decoration of trees around the winter festival also goes back to pagan times, but early Christmas trees would often have been decorated with edible treats. A letter from Germany in 1605 states: "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc. ".
As time went on the apples were replaced with glass baubles and candles were added, though naturally these were mainly used in the most affluent homes. When did the Christmas tree tradition start in Britain? The Christmas tree tradition was adopted by central European nobility in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; in 1800, George III's German wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz introduced a Christmas tree at a party she gave for children. Queen Victoria, the King's neice, would thus have been familiar with the tradition, but it was her husband Prince Albert who popularised it in this country, reintroducing it into the royal home in 1841. Seven years later a drawing of 'the Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle' was published in the Illustrated London News. The picture was instrumental in Christmas trees becoming popular in Britain and also in the United States when it was published there in 1850 - though they remained the preserve of the better-off in both countries. Widespread usage in hospitals and at public events made their popularity grow; by the 1920s they would be a common sight in the homes of all classes of Britons. Today, more than eight million trees a year are grown in this country for the Christmas market. Arguably Britain's most famous Christmas tree is the annual Norway spruce displayed in Trafalgar Square. The giant tree - typically more than 60 feet tall - is a gift from the Norwegian capital Oslo. It has been donated annually since 1947 to thank the people of Britain for their support during World War II. The tree is raised early each December and lit with 500 white lights on the first Thursday of the month.
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