Holidays Vivian | 30 Jun 2011 12:39 pm

Americans Slow to Warm Up to Christmas Tree Tradition

When many Americans think of Christmas, images of a beautifully decorated tree piled with Christmas gifts underneath probably comes to mind. Images of a fat and jolly Santa Claus making his way down a chimney to leave presents underneath a huge tree that has been joyfully decorated for the holiday season.

Santa Claus and Christmas trees. How did such a fun Christmas tradition begin? Some say it was good old Saint Nick who decided a decorated tree might be a good place to leave all the Christmas toys and goodies he loaded on his sleigh. Perhaps, but Santa really had nothing to do with the reason that Christmas trees came about.

While it may surprise some, the truth is, Americans were a little slow in catching on to the jovial holiday tradition. Not just decorating the tree, but with celebrating Santa Claus and Christmas gifts in their festivities as well.

Up until the very end of the 1800s, Americans saw Christmas as a very religious holiday. There simply was no room for chubby men in red suits, bright decorations and candles, or even a Christmas tree.

The holiday tradition of tree decorating started in Germany and later became popular in England after the Royal Family started decorating a tree for Christmas.

Eventually Americans did catch on to celebrating December 25th with decorated trees, lights, and holiday cheer. Then in true American fashion, Americans not only took on the tradition of Christmas trees and decorations, they improved on it. Everything had to be bigger, better, and more festive. Americans decided they liked their trees big, so big that they touched the ceiling of their homes.

With the invention of electricity in homes, Americans took Christmas decorating one step further. Trees were braided with strings of multicolored lights. Homes were covered with decorations of every color, blinking lights, and Santa Claus statues with his sleigh of reindeer. House after house, whole neighborhoods lit up for the holidays. Even towns and cities started setting up Santa Claus displays around Town Hall, as well as Christmas trees that reached to the sky.

The holiday tree, Santa, gifts for Christmas, and holiday cheer are all now firmly rooted in American Christmas traditions along with the spiritual and religious celebrations. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.

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