The True Origins of the Christmas Tree

Is the Christmas tree a leftover of some pagan practice? Does the tree have a connection to the Roman festival of Saturnalia? Or is it from the Norse Yule festival?

These are often said in casual conversation, but the evidence points to a much more recent origin. (if you think of the 1500’s as recent, that is)

We can never know for 100% certain what the origin of the Christmas tree is. There might even be a few traditions that came together and created what we now know. But there are some things it wasn’t, that might surprise you.

The earliest record of a Christmas tree comes in 1419, when a guild of bakers reported seeing a tree “decorated with apples, wafers, gingerbread, and tinsel in the local Hospital of the Holy Spirit” in Freiburg Germany.

The actual origin of the Christmas tree appears to have come from the Upper Rhine Valley in Germany. The earliest indications come from forestry laws in the 14th century limiting the number of trees or wood that peasants could collect or cut down on Christmas eve or the sounding days.

Now it is likely that the trees were either being burned, or used for some other type of decoration, not specifically for a tree to decorate in your home. But this practice seems to have evolved in the 15th century, perhaps blending with the tradition of the Maypole.

Many of the ideas we have about the origin of the Christmas tree was unfounded claims from Johannes Marbach, a German socialist writer form the 1850’s, who wanted to make a connection from modern Germany all the way back to their ancient ancestors.

ReligionForBreakfast is a channel dedicated to exploring the worlds different religions and practices. He takes a deep dive into history to find answers about the Christmas tree.

If you want to learn the fascinating details, watch the video, you will not be disappointed.

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