O’ Christmas Tree

by Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Oh, the Christmas tree, it does delight us.

The most popular symbol for the holidays is the Christmas tree. Traditionally, most German families put up a Christmas tree in their homes. And customarily, most don’t put it up before the morning of Christmas Eve and keep it until Three Kings Day, Jan. 6. Some people also decorate the trees in their yards, mainly with light bulbs.

Throughout the years, Christmas trees found their way into stores, official buildings and restaurants. They are used as decorations at Christmas markets and in dominant places in towns and cities.

The Christmas tree has roots back to pagan times. Green branches were used to conjure summer while celebrating winter solstice. Imitations of this tradition were kept throughout centuries.

The first decorated Christmas tree was documented in notes from a 1597 meeting in the town of Tuerckheim in the Alsace region, France. These documents list the different guilds’ expenses for tree decorations, and they also state that in order to protect the local forests, each citizen was allowed to only cut one tree. The same documents mention the type of decorations at that time — gingerbread, apples, sugar candy and paper flowers.