On the weekend, we finally got around to
decorating our live tree, affectionately named Fred. Every year, I nag my husband to help me
decorate the tree. This year, it was
different. Strangely, he seemed eager to
be part of the process!
With the boxes of decorations hauled out from
the bodega and dusted off we were ready to get our Mexico home decked out for
As we started, my husband said he was
interested to know a little more about how this whole Christmas tree decorating
tradition came about. He pulled out his
smart phone and started to google while I fought with the tangled light
bulbs. Why is it with those strings of
lights that no matter how you put them back in their original box, they still
seem to be a puzzle to unwind the next season?
As I struggled with this challenge, hubby shared his first finding. “Evergreens have been part of the holiday
décor for quite some time. Pagans
celebrated the winter solstice in the ancient world. In the middle of winter, festivals celebrated
the victory of life and light over death and darkness.”
Interesting! As I started shoving some ribbon to Fred,
deep inside his branches, my husband told me that many countries have claimed
to be the first to use the Christmas tree.
What seems to be consistent is that all these countries share an
abundance of evergreen forests and are mostly from northern Europe.
“The first two countries that lay
claim to the title are Latvia and Estonia,” said my husband as he
stretched out on the sofa. “It says
here that Latvia had a merchant guild that carried an evergreen tree through
the city, put decorations on it and then burned it down. Estonia said they did the same thing, only
sooner!” I pondered that
information as I poured the box of ornament hooks onto the table, and they came
out as one glob of interconnected type of metal sculpture.
After a big slurp of rum and eggnog, my
husband continued. “It is more
likely that the tradition started in the Alsace area. That is part of France now but was originally
in Germany. They figure it started
during the 16th century.”
“Good to know,” I said as I started hanging the ornaments on
the tree. No matter how careful I am to
hook the ornaments onto the tree, they always seem to fall off and start
bouncing around. Nothing more fun than
chasing bouncing ornamental balls around the living room!
Suddenly, while I was spread out under the
tree trying to reach for one of those dang ornamental balls, I heard some
rustling. I slid out from under Fred,
turned around to see my helpful husband helping himself to a few of the shortbread
cookies I baked for after we finished decorating the tree together.
Before I could comment, he shared some more
fascinating information. “There
also seems to be some disagreement on the meaning of the Christmas tree. Some say that it is a symbol of the paradise
tree from the Garden of Eden. Others
suggest it came from the Christmas pyramids that were structures made from
wood decorated with boughs and
“Regardless of the meaning, it was the
Germans who took it and ran with it.” Chasing another two shortbread cookies
with a swig of rum and eggnog, he managed to add, “Martin Luther was the
first to light the tree using candles, and electric lights were added in
I thought to myself, what helpful
information. I started digging through the four plastic containers of décor
items looking for those stupid glass beads that I can never seem to
locate. It has become a holiday
tradition to empty every huge plastic container before finding the beads at the
bottom of the very last one.
“Here is something else I did not
know. You?” asked my husband as he
readjusted the pillow under his weary head.
“Queen Charlotte introduced the first Christmas tree to the royals,
but it was Queen Victoria who set the trend with a picture published of her and
her family around their tree.”
Ducky, I thought as I teetered on top of
the rickety step ladder, trying to get the angel to go on straight. Every year she seems to look like she has had
too much cheer as she hangs aslant up there.
As I finally flopped down on the sofa,
exhausted from the work of getting Fred the tree full decorated, I looked over
at my darling husband. Yup, fast asleep
on the sofa.
On behalf of Fred, my husband and I, have a wonderful