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
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
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!