Category Archives: Tannenbaum”

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I love looking at the branches of evergreens, especially at the moon

at night! Looking up into the sky, seeing those spiky, almost too

perfectly and evenly spaced trees, they seem like there always was

a “purpose” to their creation! A common legend that gives credit

to Martin Luther for the use of evergreens as “Christmas trees” is

a sweet and powerful, albeit short story.

Martin Luther was walking home in the dark, as the legend goes, when

he saw stars shining through evergreen branches. He thought that it

would be fitting, along with a beautiful display, if someone would

bring in an evergreen tree, placing candles on each branch, to

represent the stars he saw that night.

Other natural “ornaments” evolved from this “first Christmas tree,”

along with simple ‘gifts’ to decorate it without taking away the

beauty of the tree itself. Including tying ribbons or strings to

apples or pears, placing home-baked little cakes, wrapped up to keep

fresh for children to ‘pick’ off! Also, the tree may have in olden

times been decorated with colored papers or streames and tin stars.

Some additional forms of nature that I found in my research include

one I had never thought of: mushrooms, while we still continue the

tradition of stringing popcorn and cranberries to weave amongst the

branches.

Becoming popular more in the 1840’s, in England, Prince Albert and

Queen Victoria, celebrated the holidays with a tree in Windsor Castle.

There is the belief, supported with historical fact, that Prince

Albert had brought this custom from his homeland of Germany.

In America, German immigrants are given credit in literature for

bringing their traditional Christmas tree here.

“Oh Tannenbaum,” was originally written in the 16th century, as

“Ach, Tannenbaum,”as a folk song. Later, in the 1824, an organist

made the musical arrangement that is currently listened to today.

Interestingly enough, the song is celebrating more of how Martin

Luther would have wanted the words to depict. It is voicing the

amazement at the fir tree’s constancy and beauty, too. It includes

a ‘back story,’ of faithfulness, too. (Due to an unfaithful lover!)

The lyrics don’t directly say anything about Christmas nor decorating

a tree.

While in elementary school, we often included “Oh, Christmas Tree,”

as one of our carols based on this German song that depicts the

loveliness of fir trees.

President Franklin Pierce’s administration get the historical

credit for putting up the”First Christmas Tree in the White House,”

in 1856. This began the annual continued tradition that has more

than one tree each year inside the White House, along with carrying

on the ceremonial celebration of lighting the beautifully decorated

Christmas tree on the White House lawn.

I enjoyed going to Delaware Court Health Care Center, a nursing home

here in Delaware, Ohio. My grandson, Skyler, his mother, my oldest

daughter, and Micah were singing carols with the Smith School Cub

Scout troop. They also had an “after caroling party” in the

dining room, serving cookies, fruits on toothpicks, fudge and some

delicious punch. The elderly people were given in each room where

there was a resident, a popsicle stick decorated with glitter as

buttons, marker for a face and a 1/4 of a pipe cleaner wrapped

around the “neck” of a white painted snowman.

Some of the carols we sang were more aimed at the age group

present, but the older folks seemed to thoroughly enjoy their

presence and refreshments, too. The children sang, loudly

and of course, some were off-key, but their enthusiasm was

very enchanting and really got me in the “Christmas spirit!”

I have worked in a nursing home, so I wasn’t nervous going

in and holding a hand, asking can you see the children in

the hall, helping to move or position a person’s wheelchair

or give an extra plumping of their pillow. One woman requested

that I give her a drink, so I held her large (and heavy) cup

of water placing the straw in her mouth. Then, afterwards,

while she gratefully smiled, she asked me if I were a mother

to one of those ‘darling children in the hallway?’ It made

me smile and of course, we all would feel “young again” if

we would visit the elderly more often!