Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Do You Decorate Your Tree?

I enjoy seeing the different ways in which Christmas trees are decorated.  There are even contests held to see who does the best job of decorating their tree.  Some trees are extremely elaborate and most have distinct themes.

One version of the tradition of Christmas trees is connected with Martin Luther.  It seems that he was walking in the forest one starlit evening and looking up through the trees he noticed how the stars appeared to twinkle among the branches.  He sought to immitate that glorious sight by placing candles in a fir near his home.

There are other legends and stories surrounding Christmas trees.  Some go back to pagan practices long before Christ came to earth.  It seems that evergreen trees were worshipped by the Egyptians during winter solstice as a symbol of life's triumph over death.  Ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Saturnalia at the winter solstice.  It was in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture.  They used evergreen branches as decorations for the festival.

Christmas trees probably came to the United States along with the Hessian troops who fought in the American Revolution, or possibly as a tradition of early German immigrants into Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The practice was slow to spread and was even banned in parts of New England as late as 1851 by the Puritans.  The trees were thought to be a symbol of pagan rituals.

Whatever its origin, Christmas trees are now common.  How they are decorated is a matter of taste and personal expression.  For some it is show.  For others it is more personal.

Our tree is among the more personal.  Each year the number of decorations grows.  Some have adorned trees since our very first Christmas.  Others commemorate special events.  Many are handmade by our children.

Each year one or two new ornaments are added.  Sometimes they are removed.  When our daughter married and set up her own household she was given her ornaments -- those that commemorated special events in her life.  They now adorn her tree.  Some day my son will take his ornaments to his home.

I'm curious.  How do you decorate your tree?


i beati said...

I start and let the tree speak to me I know sounds crazy- I have one live tree that is so beautiful that I am putting on a few unique collectable ornaments and water piks with live flowers - another a fun tree with just what fits in here and there, Another on porch left overs from years gone by- some I will plant and only have white lights inside.,.i BELIEVE THE SHAPE OF THE TREE DICTATES THE LOOK.

Plowing and Sowing said...

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your family have a very relaxed and memorable weekend.