Why Christmas Trees?
Evergreens can endure harsh winters when most other plants cannot. Christians in the 16th Century bought the trees inside to offer hope of the Spring to come. They also represent eternal life that Christians believe is present in the birth of Jesus Christ. By displaying the evergreens on their doors and inside their homes they would honor the strength of Jesus to endure prosecution and keep evil spirits and illness from invading the home. The foliage was then expanded onto the food table to keep hope of prosperity, health, and everlasting hope.
Elaborate food tables were a mainstay of the Roman times to reflect great wealth. Their feast was decorated with evergreens to honor the God of Agriculture during the season of solstice. High towers of fruit and marzipan were displayed during feasts to show their rank in society. This type of centerpiece was an important public display on tables throughout the 18th Century for any formal gathering. Marzipan often resembled animals and people in the community.
Thousands of years of history is represented in evergreens. Holly, ivy, and mistletoe are used in many Christmas centerpieces. They too, are evergreens and represent eternal life, or enduring hardship. The berries in Christmas holly represents the blood of Jesus and the prickly leaves often are used to represent the crown of thorns. Mistletoe was thought to ward off poison and an antidote to embrace fertility if ingested. The Victorians used mistletoe over doorways to allow socially-acceptable kissing-but a berry must be plugged for every kiss. When the berries were gone, the kissing stopped!
The first Christmas trees were decorated with gingerbread, apples, and gold foil. At first the baby Jesus was added to the top of the trees, but over time it became a star to symbolize what the Wise Men Saw as they ventured on the trail to find the newborn Savior.
Christmas is the time to rejoice and celebrate. If you would like a personal visit from Santa, contact me!
Bartlett Tree Experts