The History of Christmas Trees

Evergreen trees (and other evergreen plants) have traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of evergreen trees to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. However, they were quite different to what we think of as Christmas Trees now.

Nobody is really sure when Fir trees were first used as Christmas trees. It probably began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe.

Christmas Trees might well have started out as ‘Paradise Trees’ (branches or wooden frames decorated with apples). These were used in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of Churches during Advent and on Christmas Eve. In early church calendars of saints, 24th December was Adam and Eve’s day. The Paradise Tree represented the Garden of Eden. It was often paraded around the town before the play started, as a way of advertising the play. The plays told Bible stories to people who could not read.