Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree.....
So, is your Christmas Tree up yet? Are you a "can't wait to get it up as soon as it's December the 1st" kind of person, or a "chuck it up on Christmas Eve and hope for the best" type?
Well, all this talk of festive forests got us to thinking about how, and why, it all started. Who on earth thought of throwing tinsel and shiny balls onto an evergreen tree and calling it Christmas?
image by DR04 on wikicommons
Well, the tradition can be traced as far back as ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilisations, when evergreen trees and plants were used in celebrations to symbolise eternal life. But the Christmas tree as we know it today has its roots in Northern Germany around the 16th century.
Large manor house owners and aristocracy began to bring in giant evergreen trees to display in the hall, decorated with sweets and treats that the children and servants would get to eat on the day before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the tree would be brought outside again so that the whole village could dance around it, to mark the start of the festive celebrations.
By the early 19th century, the tradition had been adopted by nobility and wealthy families across Europe, as far as Russia. In Britain, we first began to embrace the idea when our Royal Family was united with the German house of Hanover by King George III in the early 1800s. At first it was a custom for the rich only, but a hundred or so years later, the tradition was much more widespread.
Today, it is more uncommon to not see a tree in houses and public places across Britain - both indoors and out. Advances in technology mean that there are now a huge choice of trees - from real and fresh to plastic and paper. Originally trees were decorated with sweets, paper decorations, and later candles. Thankfully, we now have clever Christmas tree lights to thank for a much reduced fire risk! But all other decorations are unique and individual - some prefer a minimalist look, others go all out on tinsel and glitter! And let's not forget the age-old debate about the tree-top resident? Is it a star, or is it a fairy?
But, one thing's for sure - when the festive tree goes up, it means that Christmas is sniffingly close, and we here at the Oakeley Arms absolutely cannot wait!