Christmas Adventures; O Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum! (Part 5)

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

I asked Livvy today what is one of her favorite things about Christmas (excluding the receiving of gifts!) she said “mummy it’s the Christmas tree”.   Of course! I couldn’t agree more, for many around the world the putting up of the tree and decorating it is one of the nicest parts of the festivities – I have many fond memories of decorating the tree when I was a wee girl 🙂  It was a magical thing to share with my loved ones!

Livvys_Christmas_Tree The above pic is Livvy’s very own Christmas Tree.  Decorated by my little lady and proudly sits on her bedside table 🙂

Now, as we are enveloping ourselves in the traditions of Weihnachten our Weihnachtsbaum (Christmas tree ) decorating is slightly different this year… Previously I simply can not wait much beyond the 10th December before venturing out to buy our real tree… but alas…I am waiting until the traditional German date of 24th December!  Tradition has it in our family (on the German side of course!) that the Daddies take the children out on the afternoon of the 24th and the women of the family decorate the tree and place the presents under, then get the rest of the house ready (including food!) and eagerly wait for the return of the family!  If it’s a tradition then I wanna do it…so bring on the 24th December!

Die_Gartenlaube_(1871)_109 Now it would be silly of me at this stage of the game not to look into the history of the Christmas tree!  Why do we bring them into our houses and adorn them with beautiful ball-balls, lights and sit a star or an angel on top?  Well keep reading and we shall see 🙂

The origins of this wonderful activity is not truly known but historians have been able to trace the custom back as far as the 15th Century.  It does seem to be though that Germany played a big role in popularising the tradition in the 18th and 19th Century.

The actual reasons for bringing the evergreen tree into ones house would seem to stem from pagan beliefs (though, like most things in life, historians and theologists are unable to agree if this is correct!). Bringing evergreen into one’s house during the harsh, wild, wintry months was believed to be a symbol of immortality – when all other trees loose their leaves and the landscape looks baron and lifeless, the evergreen is the one that holds its beautiful colour and ‘life’. Evil spirits were blamed for the dying of the non-evergreens and good spirits equalled the preservation of evergreens  and acted as a type of defence against darkness that lingered in the depths of winter.

At first people bought evergreen branches into their homes…then as time went on the whole tree became the centre piece… It has been said that the Martin Luther (you know the Protestant Reformer that we touched on in my last Adventure post) was one of the first to bring Weihnachtsbaum into a house…..

“A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.”

So where do we get the tradition of hanging ball-balls on our beautiful evergreen trees?  Well for the answer to this question we need to look to the church….As we have discovered the tree is associated with the symbol of life… The church then adorned the evergreen beauties with apples as symbol of Adam and Eve being banished from Eden. When trees eventually came into households, decorations would typically be symbols associated with Christ; stars, angels, apples and even bells.  Candles were also placed upon the branches of the trees, in Christian circles it was a symbol for the stars shining brightly upon the birth of Christ. Others believed the candles were symbol of the sun shining brightly illuminating the earth in the depths of winter.  Eventually as households embraced the wonders of electricity candles were replaced with fairy lights, though in many households around the world  stars and angles are still abound even today and more often than not either a star or an angel will proudly be sat at the top of the tree.

Johansen_Viggo_-_Radosne_Boże_Narodzenie

As for me and my tree, well, I shall have to be patient!  As the saying goes….all good things come to those who wait!!

So there you have it a rather brief look at the tradition of the Christmas Tree.  I have thoroughly loved researching the subject and have spent many hours trawling through websites to give you a little glimpse into a truly fabulous past-time. If you do have the time to look more deeply then the websites below are the best ones that I have found!

So, for now my friends all that is left for me to say is I hope you all have a truly wonderful Christmas, that is filled with much love and lots of laughter 🙂

References

http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/trees.shtml

http://www.mrshea.com/germusa/customs/xmastree.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree

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7 responses to “Christmas Adventures; O Tannenbaum O Tannenbaum! (Part 5)

    • Thank you! I came across Livvys tree in our local charity shop 🙂 The perfect size for a four year old 🙂 Happy Christmas tree hunting …. Ooooh I love getting the tree!!!

  1. Loved reading this 🙂 it actually brought back memories from my own childhood and my Dad trying to educate my siblings & me about why we have Christmas trees…thank you for this wonderful memory jog. It’s so easy to forget the traditions of what Christmas is really about and just go along with all the hype of the season, it is so important to keep history alive! So, have fun adorning your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve 🙂 and a very Happy Christmas to you all 🙂

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