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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Tree’

I went over to my best friend’s house last night because she and her boyfriend had bought a beautiful Christmas tree here in New York City (actually at Whole Foods surprisingly!). She is a teacher here in New York and I asked her if she knew the meaning behind why we have a tree? A Christmas tree, or a Yule tree, is probably the most popular tradition associated with celebrating Christmas and Yuletide. She and I both grew up with a Christmas tree – we would find one with the family, decorate it with ornaments, put on lights, etc…but neither of us were sure what the actual tree represented. I thought I would look into it and give you a little background on the meaning in case you want to share with your kids, along with some really fun facts…did you know that according to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year?!?

Believe it or not the Christmas tree comes to us from Germany. Martin Luther is credited with being inspired by the starry heavens one night, and expressing his feelings to his family by bringing a fir tree into his home, and attaching lighted candles to its branches. Fir meant fire, and fire is an ancient symbol for spirit. The tree also pointed toward the heavens.

Evergreen trees were thought to represent the ever-burning fire of life. The color green signified the life force through the year. Eventually decorative balls represented the planets, while the star that radiates from the top reminds us of Bethlehem. The entire tree and decorations teach us that the universe is witness to the Incarnation.

Red at Christmas reminds us of the fire of the Spirit. Green affirms nature, and the ongoing life. And in the Incarnation, Spirit unites with nature.

Actually, the tree is also a reinterpretation of pagan rites, along with the use of other greens and decorations to honor in ancient times a celebration of the feast of Saturnalia – the birth of the Sun in the sky at the Winter Solstice. Along with the giving of gifts, the feast was later Christianized with the date of December 25th to announce the birth of the Son of God (Jesus) to the world.

Past celebrations of the Christmas tree began in the 16th century, and were later brought to America by German immigrants.

Fun Christmas Trivia and Fun Facts

  • The season surrounding Christmas is called Christmastide, running from sundown on December 24th to January 5 (also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas). In some places, people believe it is bad luck to keep decorations up after Christmastide.
  • Christmas actually comes from Middle and Old English words meaning “Christ’s Mass.” In Greek, the first letter of Christ is “X”, which is where the abbreviation Xmas (or X-mas) comes from.
  • According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation’s 5,000 choose-and-cut farms.
  • The first Christmas hymns we know of were sung in 4th century Rome.
  • The first national Christmas tree was lit in 1923 during Calvin Coolidge’s presidency and is maintained outside of the White House. Although national Christmas trees used to be donated from around the nation, in 1973 living trees replaced donated cut trees, responding to environmental concerns. The same tree has been used as the national Christmas tree since 1977.
  • The White House Christmas tree was first lit with solar energy in 1995, and LED lights were used for the first time in 2002
  • There are at least four nationally designated Christmas trees. These include the Christmas tree outside the White House, inside the White House (and, since 1966, donated by the National Christmas Tree Association), a tree in the West Front Lawn of the Capitol and the “Nation’s Christmas Tree,” a 270 foot giant sequoia designated by Congress as a national Christmas tree in 1926.
  • There are around 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on American farms alone.
  • One to three seedlings are planted the following spring for every one Christmas tree harvested.
  • The top Christmas tree producing states in order are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington. Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec are the highest producing provinces in Canada.
  • The first “jingle” or singing commercial was played on Christmas Eve in 1926 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The commercial was aired by General Mills for Wheaties and was called “Have You Tried Wheaties?” The group eventually became known as the Wheaties Quartet and continued singing together for years.
  • St. Nicholas lived in the south of modern-day Turkey as the bishop of Myra, a town in the region Lycia. He was known to give secret gifts, like leaving coins in shoes left outside. Nearly a thousand years after the saint’s bones had been removed from his gravesite, the government of Turkey formally requested the return of his bones from the Italian government.
  • English-speakers get the modern Santa Claus from the Dutch for St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas.

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I loved hearing from ‘home’ that our office is getting all decked out for the holidays! Paul and I are here in Hong Kong, working on next season’s collections and we always miss home, especially as Christmas approaches. 

Here in Hong Kong – in our ‘other home’ – we can also get into the season – because Hong Kong puts on a huge display of Christmas lights and decorations!  I feel just like a little kid – ‘ooing and ‘awwing as we drive past some of the fabulous Christmas displays.

Paul and I will be home for the holidays with our family – but here is a view of our version of ‘getting into the spirit!’

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