December 3, 2015

Decorating the Christmas Tree

The first description of a decorated Christmas tree in someone’s home dates back to 1605 and comes from Strasbourg, Germany. According to this account, early seventeenth-century Germans festooned their Christmas trees with roses made out of coloured paper, apples, wafers, and decorations made of shiny bits of gold foil or sugar. Indeed, a wide variety of ornaments made from food dangled from early German Christmas trees, and later, cookies. They shaped these cookies in the form of hearts, angles, bells and stars. Fruits and vegetable dyes soon followed. Some people made ornaments out of eggshells, transforming them, for example, into tiny baskets which could be filled with candy. In fact, the traditional German Christmas tree was covered with so many good things to eat that it was nicknamed a “sugar tree.” Children looked forward to dismantling the tree on January 6, Epiphany, because they were then allowed to gobble up all the treats that had tempted them throughout the Christmas season.

The tree in Henry House

The tree in Henry House

German immigrants brought their tree-decorating ideas with them to the United States. Like their ancestors in the old county, the Pennsylvania Dutch covered their Christmas trees with apples, nuts, and cookies. In addition, many American adopted the German custom of hanging gifts for children on the branches of the Christmas tree. This worked because parents gave their children lightweight, unwrapped trinkets rather than heavy, boxed gifts throughout most of the nineteenth-century.

 

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1 Comment »

  1. 1

    this is intrsting


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