Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a Christmas tree twinkling in the night on Christmas Eve. Where did this Christmas tree tradition come from? What is our great nation’s national Christmas tree? Find out answers to these questions and more as you increase your Christmas tree trivia knowledge with the interesting facts below.
What is the Origin of the Christmas Tree?
The Christmas tree is thought to have originated in a play often performed in the Middle Ages during the Advent season. Based on the story of Adam and Eve, the play featured a Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden that was decorated with apples to symbolize Eve's temptation. The tree used in the play was an evergreen tree, which symbolized fertility and a renewal of life.
It is believed that the Christmas tree dates back to the Middle Ages.
Later, in 16th century Germany, people would hang apples, gilded candies, colored paper, and roses from tree branches. Martin Luther, inspired by the beauty of stars shining through the branches of a fir tree, is credited with being the first person to add lighted candles to a tree.
Some believe that King George, a native of Germany, brought the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree to England. Others credit Queen Victoria with bringing the tradition to England from Germany where her husband, Prince Albert, was raised.
An etching of the British royal family gathered around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle in 1848 prompted the spread of this favorite decoration throughout Victorian England. The custom was brought to the United States when German immigrants in Pennsylvania continued to decorate Christmas trees just as they had done in their homeland.
How do you care for Holiday Botanicals?
So much of Christmas decorating involves natural greenery and holiday flowers. Even if you don't have a green thumb, it is easy to incorporate these elements into your decor. All it takes to keep live and cut botanicals fresh during the holidays is tender, loving care.It is a myth that poinsettias are poisonous, but they do have a bitter taste.
To care for poinsettias, keep the soil moist, not wet. After the holidays, transfer the plant into a larger pot, trim the branches back once the bracts or leaves fade, and feed it every three weeks with fertilizer. As the weather warms to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, place the plant outdoors and continue trimming its branches. In October, expose the plant to 14 hours of darkness daily to force the leaves to color.
Holiday greenery such as holly, ivy, and evergreen branches will remain beautiful longer by adding a commercial floral preservative to the water. Spritz arrangements with water daily and monitor their temperature. The cooler the room, the longer the greenery stays fresh. Leaves dipped in household floor wax can last up to six weeks. This also works for decorative fruit such as grapes and pears. It gives them a shine and can keep them from spoiling for at least three weeks.
Christmas trees need water daily. Adding a commercial preservative to the water will extend the life of the tree. For a live tree, place the burlap-wrapped root-ball in a tub, and water it daily. After Christmas, dig a hole twice as large as the root-ball, carefully remove the burlap, then place the tree into the hole.
Ranging in color from red to yellow, kalanchoes and other succulent plants are excellent holiday bloomers. Though the plants can withstand relatively dry conditions, keep the soil moist. After the holidays, treat kalanchoes like poinsettias, trimming the branches and feeding regularly. In the fall, allow the plant to dry out between waterings and expose it to at least 12 hours of darkness to encourage flowering.
To force bulbs like paperwhites, narcissus, amaryllis, and irises, plant them in October with the pointed end up in a shallow container on a layer of pebbles. Fill with sandy potting soil or with more pebbles. Water at planting time and regularly when growth begins. Place the bulbs in warm sunlight, and fertilize just before and during blooming. When flowers begin to die, reduce watering until the leaves have withered. Plant the bulbs, or place them in a cool, dark, dry place until next year.
What is the History of the Wreath?
Wreaths have a long history, dating back to ancient Druids who believed that holly, a perennial evergreen with lush, red berries, was a magical plant. Wreaths were first created when holly and other evergreens were arranged in a circular shape, a shape with no beginning or end, and therefore, synonymous with eternity.
The circular shape of a wreath is synonymous with eternity.
This representation took on more meaning when Jesus Christ was crowned with a wreath of thorns. In the days of Julius Caesar, wreaths were worn by aristocrats and used by Greeks to crown victorious athletes in the original Olympic games. It is believed that hanging a wreath on a door became a custom when Olympic athletes began to hang their wreaths on their doors following a victory.
Although the word wreath evokes thoughts of Christmas, these lovely decorations can beautify doors and walls year-round. They can be embellished with a vast assortment of dried or artificial flowers to fit any holiday or season.
What are some of the most popular Holiday World Records?
Some people love the holidays so much that they set out to break world records with their holiday cheer. For example:
The largest Christmas stocking measures 35 feet 4 1/2 inches long and 16 feet 5 inches wide. Created by J. Terry Osborne and friends from King William County, Virginia, it was filled with gifts to be distributed to needy children.
Jean-Guy Laquerre of Boucherville, Quebec, Canada, is an avid Father Christmas collector, with more than 13,000 items collected since 1988. The collecting bug bit when his aunt died and left him a 12-inch-high antique papier-mâché Santa Claus from the 1920s. Since then, he has added objects such as music boxes, yo-yos, photos, candleholders, and pens.
What is the Origin of the Poinsettia?
Poinsettias account for 88 percent of all plant purchases at Christmastime. The most popular color is red, but they are also available in white, cream, pink, and yellow, and they can be striped, spotted, or marbled.
Originating in Mexico, where they are known as the "Flower of the Holy Night," the flowers were brought to the United States by Joel Poinsett in 1829. In their native country, they grow as shrubs and can reach heights up to ten feet tall.
The poinsettia originated in Mexico, where it is known as the "Flower of the Holy Night."
In Mexico, a heart-warming story explains the origin of the poinsettia:
On a Christmas Eve, long ago, a poor little boy went to church in great sadness because he had no gift to bring the Holy Child. He dared not enter the church, and, kneeling humbly on the ground outside the house of God, he prayed fervently and assured our Lord, with tears, how much he desired to offer him some lovely present --"But I am very poor and dread to approach you with empty hands." When he finally rose from his knees, he saw springing up at his feet a green plant with gorgeous blooms of dazzling red.
What is Holly?
For centuries, holly has been synonymous with the holiday season. In ancient Rome, holly branches were given as a gesture of friendship during Saturnalia, the winter solstice festival. Druids would decorate their homes with holly during Britain's gloomy winters, believing that the sun always shone on this sacred tree. Likewise, pagans would bring holly and other evergreens inside to ensure that Nature would return in the spring.
The most well known holly is American holly.
There are hundreds of species of holly that can be clipped and used in seasonal decorations. Perhaps the most well known is American holly, which features spiny, glossy leaves and bright red berries. Inkberry holly, named for its deep purple-black berries, and variegated holly, with striped leaves, are striking alternatives to the standard holiday holly.
What is the Origin of the Traditional Mistletoe Kiss?
Who doesn't love hanging mistletoe? Although most mistletoe is parasitic, and, therefore, harmful to the trees on which it grows, the Celts thought it had magical powers for healing wounds and increasing fertility, so they placed it throughout their homes for good luck and to ward off evil spirits.
The mistletoe "kiss" tradition dates back to the eighth century.
In ancient Britain, mistletoe was considered so sacred that it could only be cut with a golden sickle. Today, Americans decorate doorframes with this plant in hopes of catching a smooch from a sweetheart while standing under its leaves. This tradition is credited to Frigga, the Scandinavian goddess of love and beauty, and is said to date back to the eighth century.
What is America’s National Christmas Tree?
America's official national Christmas tree is not located at the White House, but rather in King's Canyon National Park near Sanger, California. The tree, a giant sequoia known as the General Grant Tree, was designated the "Nation's Christmas Tree" in 1925.
It is 267 feet high, 40 feet across its base, and is estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old. In 1956, the tree was declared a national shrine to honor the men and women of the U.S. military. As a memorial, park rangers place a wreath at the base of the tree during the Christmas ceremony, which has been held every year since 1925.
As you can see, there were many engaging facts to discover about everything from Christmas trees to wreaths. In the next section, take your Christmas trivia skills to the next level as you uncover facts about Christmas songs.