Christmas Tree - History & How to Decorate It - Furniture, Home Decor, Interior Design & Gifts

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If there’s one décor that perfectly sums up the Christmas holidays, it’s probably the Christmas tree. It is perhaps the most celebrated and popular holiday décor in the world. Even non-Christians know what a Christmas tree is!

But while many people from all over the world know what a Christmas tree looks like, very few actually know of its history. In this article, learn the origin of the Christmas tree and why it’s such a prominent part of the Christmas holidays.

After that, stick around to discover a few more practical tips like how to decorate your Christmas tree or how to make Christmas tree arts.

What Is a Christmas Tree?

christmas tree at night
Source: Ecstasy Coffee

A Christmas tree is an evergreen type of tree littered with decorations. It is heavily associated with the celebration of Christmas. It can be genuine evergreen trees or ones artificially made to look like evergreen trees.

Traditional Christmas trees were genuinely cut down and brought inside homes when they were popularized as early as before the 16th century.

Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?

Knowing and seeing what a Christmas tree is are all well and good. But having the background knowledge in regards to Christmas trees may allow you to appreciate better why we have them in the first place.

For one, did you know that the origin of the Christmas tree wasn’t strictly Christian? Read on to find out why!

Origin of the Christmas Tree

white country tree
Source: Cox and Cox

Christmas trees, in the modern sense, dates back to the early 19th century. But the history of the Christmas tree began way before Christianity was established. In fact, it starts as early as the time of ancient Egypt and Rome.

Traditional Christmas trees make use of evergreen conifer, more commonly fir and pine. The use of evergreen as a symbol dates back to ancient times, both in the East and the West. In fact, most plants and trees which can survive the winter (like evergreen) were celebrated, then.

During these days, evergreen was thought to keep away evil spirits, disease, and lousy luck all-year-round because of its resilience. While the practice of using evergreen started out as Pagan in nature, people who converted to Christianity, kept the tradition.

The modern look and use of the Christmas tree, on the other hand, began in western Germany. It grew in popularity when a well-known medieval play about Adam and Eve made use of a fir tree decorated with apples as the representation of ‘The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.’

As the use of the Christmas tree became more widespread, its reach also stretched farther. By the mid-19th century, Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria, born in Germany) popularized the use of the Christmas tree in England.

Again, the Christmas tree traveled across continents when German people began settling in North America. By the 19th century, it had become a deep-rooted tradition there as well. Soon after, the Christmas tree took all over the world when Western missionaries introduced this idea to the East.

Businesses all over the world created various kinds of knick-knacks solely for decorating the Christmas tree. By the 1930s, modern, artificial trees made of brush bristles were invented. 20 years after, the mass-produced Christmas trees are being made from aluminum and PVC plastic.

What Does A Christmas Tree Represent?

christmas tree with garland
Source: Bless’er Household

As mentioned above, using evergreens for the Christmas tree was popularized by a medieval play. It represented Adam and Eve, and people of the time hung wafers on these trees to symbolize the Eucharistic host. The Eucharistic host signifies redemption.

While the use of evergreens was popularized by a medieval play, this isn’t the sole origin of the modern Christmas tree. Another Christmas décor popular during the time was called a Christmas pyramid. A Christmas pyramid is a group of shelves, decorated to look a triangle, that house Christmas figurines, candles, and other décor. By the end of the 16th century, the Germans have merged the two ideas together to create the modern look of the Christmas tree.

While the pagan tradition makes use of evergreen as a sort of protection from evil spirits, the Christians adopted it to become a representation of everlasting life with God.

Using a Traditional, Real Christmas Tree

potted Christmas tree
Source: White Relish

Now that you know more about Christmas trees, it’s time to choose what type of tree you want to get for the holiday.

If you opt for the artificial kind, it’s definitely easier to maintain and can be used again and again. The primary drawback? It doesn’t look as pretty and organic as authentic trees.

If, however, you choose the traditional way, here are a few things you might want to know:

Where To Buy Real Christmas Trees?

christmas tree farm
Source: Maureen Campaoila – A Mess Free Life

Before the ‘where,’ you might probably want to know the ‘how much’ so that you can budget accordingly.

You can probably get an artificial Christmas tree for less than $100, but how much are real Christmas trees?

That’s an answer that highly depends on what is happening to the world today. Remember the 2008 financial crisis? Well, it’s significantly affecting the Christmas tree industry today.

Back then, farmers of these trees weren’t sure where they’d get the money to stay afloat, so businesses planted fewer trees. Now that these trees have matured and are about to be harvested, there’s a smaller supply than usual.

That, coupled with the younger, more eco-conscious generation’s preference, the prices for real Christmas trees are skyrocketing. Case in point, the average cost of a real Christmas tree in 2015 was $64. Two years after saw a 17% increase at $73.25. Safe to say, just be ready to shell out more this year.

But if you want to save up a little, you can always try to buy your tree on Black Friday or after December 15 for discounted prices.

Now, on to the ‘where’ of buying Christmas trees. The good news? Many of the big stores you visit every week will probably sell live Christmas trees in their lots. A few of these stores are:

  • Lowe’s
  • Ace Hardware
  • Walmart
  • Home Depot
  • Whole Foods

Another well-known company will also start selling live Christmas trees this year, and will even deliver it to your doorstep. You can now also check out Amazon for real Christmas tree buying!

How to Shape a Christmas Tree

fairy lights Christmas tree
Source: Absolute Christmas

Here’s the thing. Real Christmas trees come in different shapes and sizes. You can’t expect them to look uniformed like artificial trees. Usually, you can ask the personnel in the tree nursery you’re buying from to cut and shape your tree for you.

But it never hurts to know the basics when you want to trim your tree yourself. Here are a few steps to follow:

Step 1: Choose a tree with good shape.
When you’re in the tree nursery, look for a tree that already has a shape near your desired one. Make sure you get one that looks full.

Step 2: Check out the height and width.
Knowing how tall your Christmas tree is essential. You wouldn’t want one that can’t fit your room. Bring a measuring tape with you. Make sure to account for your tree stand, as well. Then have the tree trimmed to right height and width while you’re at the tree nursery.

Step 3: Trim the base.
Trimming the bottom is crucial if you want your tree to absorb water and stay fresh for longer. Use a handsaw or chainsaw carefully.

Step 4: Remove dead parts of the tree.
Getting a real Christmas tree, you won’t be able to avoid dry and dead branches. That’s normal. Use pruning shears or hedge clippers for this task. Make sure that you’re not cutting out large chunks to avoid making the tree look bad.

Step 5: Trim the top and the body.
This is critical to keep your tree sturdy. After the top, slowly trim the rest of the body into the shape you want.

If you want to see the proper way of taking care of your trees in action, take a look at this video:

How Long Does A Real Christmas Tree Last?

small evergreen tree
Source: Best Pin

Another big concern when it comes to live Christmas trees is how long they last, and for a good reason. You wouldn’t want a dried-up tree come Christmas morning.

So, how long do Christmas trees last? Genuine Christmas trees can last up to four weeks on average, with proper care and maintenance. Some can even last up to six weeks on occasion.

If this seems like too much work for you, an artificial Christmas tree can last an average of six to nine years.

How to Preserve A Christmas Tree

potted tree group
Source: Rocky Hedge Farm

How to keep your Christmas tree alive is another skill you need to learn if you want to care for one this holiday.

Here are a few tips that can help you out:

  • Choose a healthy tree when in the tree nursery.
  • Re-trim your trunk for a fresh cut. A one-inch cut on the bottom will be enough.
  • Give your Christmas tree water regularly, so it doesn’t dry out quickly.
  • Keep your tree away from heat sources like stoves, sunlight radiators, and regularly used fireplaces.
  • Try a humidifier, so your tree doesn’t dry out fast.

What To Do With Old Christmas Tress?

bright christmas living room Source: Christmas Photos

It’s no secret that your live Christmas tree couldn’t be used as your decorative tree for next year. But that doesn’t mean that you need to throw it away. Recycle and re-use it for other purposes.

Here are a few examples of what you can use your old Christmas tree for:

  • Making mulch for your gardens
  • Using branches as garden borders and stakes, and shelter for your plants
  • Creating shelters for animals and attracting animals to feed
  • Outdoor firewood
  • Some woodworking projects

How to Decorate A Christmas Tree

spell christmas tree
Source: Homesthetics

There are many ways that you can decorate your Christmas tree. People from the 16th century used fruits, flowers, other foliage, and candles for their trees. You can do so as well.
Most people nowadays decorate with a few of these:

# Item Description
1 Christmas Baubles Put up little balls to liven up your tree.
2 Christmas Lights Wrap around lights to brighten up your tree.
3 Christmas Ribbons Ribbons are also popular Christmas decor.
4 Christmas Ornaments Balls aren’t the only decor you can hang.
5 Christmas Angel Finish your tree with an angel on top.
6 Christmas Tree Skirt Even the bottom of your tree needs to decorated.

How to Put Christmas Lights on Trees

plank christmas tree
Source: Good SGN

The most important thing to remember, whether you have a live or artificial tree, is to put the lights before any other decoration. That way, it won’t snag and throw off your ornaments.

Another thing you should remember is the length of your lights. On average, you will probably need 100-150 lights per foot. Next is to make sure that the lights are on while you’re putting them up so that you can see the full effect of your decorating.

If you have a real tree, keep in mind that the branches would be less uniform than artificial ones. Instead of wrapping the lights around, work in small triangular sections and weave the trees on the branches. Make sure to start from the top of the Christmas tree all the way to the bottom.

Ideas on How to Decorate A White Christmas Tree

Don’t want the typical green Christmas tree for this holiday? Go with a white one! Here are a few inspirations on how to decorate your winter wonderland:

blue white christmas
Source: Kid Magz

all white christmas
Source: Instagram

fancy white christmas
Source: Hike N Dip

peppermint christmas
Source: The Everyday Hostess

bright balls white christmas
Source: Home Decorish

How to Make A Christmas Tree

One fun way to celebrate Christmas is to make arts and crafts. And what’s the most Christmas-y thing you can draw? Yeah, it’s the tree!

How to: Drawing a Christmas Tree

step by step christmas tree
Source: Farmer Life

There are many ways on how to draw a Christmas tree. Whether you’re using paint, pen, or colored oil pastels, making a Christmas tree is quite enjoyable and apt for the season.

Here are some of the thing’s you’ll probably need:

# Item Description
1 Oil and Acrylic Paper Pad You’ll need somewhere to paint or draw on.
2 Paint Brushes Get lots of different points to have a more detailed painting.
3 Acrylic Paint Acrylic is one of the easiest paints to work with.
4 Oil Pastels Better than crayons, oil pastels are still easy to use.
5 Sketching Pencils Use different kinds of pencils for more shades.

Examples of Decorated Christmas Trees

Want to get inspired? Here are a few, fully decorated Christmas trees to copy:

 Sleigh Prop up your tiny tree on a wooden sleigh!
Source: Décor Tutor

bright Use bright ornaments to make your tree pop out!
Source: Hike N Dip

spell Use your décor to spell things on your tree!
Source: helpwritingessays.net

 snowman Why not a Christmas tree that doesn’t look like a tree?
Source: Homely Smart

 art Get as creative as you want!
Source: Yunus

Where Can I Buy A Christmas Tree?

red present christmas
Source: Decoomo

Buying an artificial Christmas tree is quite easy. Most big stores like Target and Walmart will probably have them on sale.

Even online stores like Amazon and Etsy are good places to check out. Want to get a head start? Here are a few trees you can buy:

# Item Description
1 Fir Pencil Tree Long and narrow for the win!
2 Vintage Christmas Tree Tiny, ceramic wonder for your end table.
3 Snow-Covered Tree Enjoy a little snow indoors.
4 Felt Tree Have your little helper decorate his own Christmas tree!
5 Spruce Tree Green and wide is a classic look everyone will appreciate.

Conclusion

The Christmas tree tradition has been around for hundreds of years, and its popularity isn’t waning anytime soon. Even the most dedicated environmentalists are researching on ways to make the tradition more sustainable and lasting, so you should bet it would be around for a longer time still.

You can see from above that getting a Christmas tree requires some thought, preparation, and maintenance. But don’t let that deter you from getting one! After all, the Christmas tree is still the most prominent symbol of Christmas.