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The History of Christmas Trees
By Enid Edginton

You may not realize this but the history of christmas trees did not begin in America, England or even Germany. In fact America was one of the last continents to catch on to the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree. The history of christmas trees begins long before the birth of Christ and even before the Egyptian civilizations.

Many historians and anthropologists agree that the history of christmas trees begins in post-primeval times, just as agricultural societies were developing across the globe. Christmas did not exist. It was simply, in one culture or another, a pagan celebration of the winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year which usually occurs on the 22nd or 23rd of December. The boughs of evergreen trees were brought indoors to protect inhabitants from the evil spirits that could cause starvation and illness.

Ancient peoples also scattered evergreen boughs over their floors, doors and around the windows. In fact, the tradition of hanging an evergreen garland comes from the tradition of hanging evergreens over the mantelpiece to keep witches, ghosts and spirits from traveling down the chimney and into the house.

Evergreen boughs were also used to keep away illness. Scents such as pine, juniper and balsam are still used by aromatherapists today to fend off illness and winter depression.

Even the ancient Egyptians were thought to play a role in the history of christmas trees. Of course there were no evergreen forests in ancient Egypt but during the solstice they filled their homes with palm rushes to protect themselves from evil and celebrate the return of their Sun God Ra.

European and Mediterranean cultures also have episodes in the long saga that is part of the history of christmas trees. On the solstice, known as Saturnalia, the Romans decorated their homes with evergreen boughs. This honored the God Saturn whose domain was agriculture. Further north, the Celtic Druids used evergreens on the darkest day of the year to symbolize eternal life. These trees were not decorated as we know them today. They were not much more decorative than the famous Charlie brown christmas tree. This is because the function of these evergreen boughs was more protective than celebratory.

By the 12th century indoor trees were brought inside. Nobody is sure why but originally Christmas trees were hung upside-down from ceilings at Christmastime. This was a popular custom in Central Europe. The upside down tree was seen as both as a symbol of Christianity and a pagan symbol. At that point Christianity was not wide spread and the tree may have been a nod to both pagan and Christian traditions.

It is widely believed that the history of the Christmas tree as we know it began in Germany in the sixteenth century. However few people realize that the tree was not brought inside and that in fact, the first decorated christmas tree was a pyramid made of wood. These German indoor pyramids were decorated with boughs and candles. Often jars of pickles were set on the steps. The pyramid shape was not a direct inspiration from ancient Egypt but rather, the triangular shape was thought to represent the three points of the Holy Trinity - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The person credited with adding lighted candles to a real tree is Martin Luther - a German Protestant reformer who lived in the mid 1600s. The legend is that he was inspired to do so by the sight of stars in the night sky peeking through the limbs of an evergreen while he was on a walk.

The next big development in the history of christmas trees was tinsel. Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time, tinsel was made of real silver and it tarnished easily thanks to the smoke from the christmas tree candles. Silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century when it was replaced by aluminum.

The history of christmas trees was non-existent in America until about the 1840s. They were sometimes displayed as curios in traveling sideshows. The christmas tree decorating ritual was considered sacrilegious for most of the 17th and 18th century. It was seen as a mockery of the sober celebration of the birth of Christ. In fact in 1659, people were fined for hanging decorations. This law continued until the 19th century when the tradition was brought more into common practice by German and Irish immigrants to the United States. The practice was also made more acceptable when Queen Victoria decided to make a right side up floor-to-ceiling xmas tree part of her décor in 1846.

One difference between European customs and American customs seemed to be that Europeans were more inclined to decorate their trees with food, cookies and candies (and even pickles!) whereas Americans were more into glitzy decorations. Also the European christmas trees tended to be shorter (three to four feet in height) while the Americans preferred their trees to be sky-high. Both cultures however enjoyed decorating their trees with garlands of popcorns and electric lights.

In the 1950s America saw the advent of the first artificial christmas trees. This event was celebrated by Charles M. Schulz famous fable about the Charlie brown Christmas tree. In this fable Charlie Brown is told by Linus, Lucy and Shroeder to go out and find the biggest flashiest aluminum tree to use as a decoration for their Christmas play. Instead Brown falls in love with the most pathetic tree ever and finds the true meaning of Christmas. You can buy a replica of this type of tree which is often called the "pathetic charlie brown christmas tree" online. True to the original cartoon, the tree boasts just one red Christmas ball ornament on a single bare limb.

The argument about which is better - a fake christmas tree or a real christmas tree still rages on today. The most recent development in the history of Christmas trees is the return of the upside down christmas tree, which is disapproved by the church just as it was in the sixteenth century. If history keeps repeating itself the next trend we will see in xmas trees is the ancient wooden pyramids that served as artificial trees in pagan times. For more information on Christmas trees, visit http://www.o-christmas-tree.com - a year-round resource for all your christmas tree and decoration needs. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Enid_Edginton

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Choosing the Perfect Christmas Tree - Top Holiday Tips
By Matt Hick

For many families, choosing the perfect Christmas tree is the start of the holiday season. Don't drop the ball (excuse the pun), on this all-important tradition. Follow these simple tips by America's Christmas Tree Growers in order to find the perfect tree for your family this year:

Choose a tree lot that will either let you cut down the tree you choose yourself, or will let you watch them cut it to ensure its freshness. In the event you must purchase a pre-cut tree, be sure to ask where it was shipped from and when it was cut.

When searching the lot for a good tree, don't disregard ones with flattened or ill-shaped sides. Mother Nature tends to leave one side very full and the other flat. Put your tree in a corner or against a wall to hide any imperfections.

Remember, trees always look bigger out of doors with the sky as their ceiling. Be sure to measure your ceiling height correctly before leaving home, as well as door widths and room sizes to ensure that the size and width tree you choose will actually fit once you get it home!

Look for trees with pliable needles. If they snap or bend easily or pull off the branch with little effort, the tree may have been picked days or weeks earlier and won't hold up to the heat indoors and lose its needles quickly once its decorated.

All evergreens shed needles from the inner branches on a regular basis, so don't worry if a few fall off when you pick up the tree or shake it. Check to see if your tree retailer offers shaking service to help clear these loose needles from the inside of your tree before taking it into the house.

If possible, have your tree baled in plastic tree netting to make it easier to get home and set up.

Once you've chosen your tree and got it home, it's time to take proper care of it to ensure that it will last throughout the entire holiday season.

Here area few tips on how to care for your family's new Christmas Tree:

If you are not planning on putting your tree up immediately, cut about a half inch off of the trunk and set it in a bucket of water until you're ready to take it inside.

When you're ready to bring your tree inside, cut another ˝ inch off of the bottom of the tree trunk, then place it in the tree stand with enough water to cover the entire diameter of the tree - about one quart of water for each inch of diameter stem. Be sure to keep the water at this level to ensure freshness. A trunk that is allowed to seal over will dry quickly and lose its needles before Christmas ever arrives.

Be sure that you check the label on your tree stand to make sure it can accommodate the size tree you have chosen.

The best tree preservative is plain water. No need for added chemicals.

Keep your tree away from all heat sources. Turn down the heat in that room if at all possible to keep your tree moist and fresh.

Sick and Tired of Not Profiting From Your Websites? Start Your Own Adsense Website Builder Network TODAY with eWebCreator.com. Get Our FREE Website Secrets e-Course Here. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Matt_Hick http://EzineArticles.com/?Choosing-the-Perfect-Christmas-Tree---Top-Holiday-Tips&id=796895


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Fake or Fir: A Christmas Dilemma
By Emma Snow

Every year families are confronted with the dilemma of whether to buy a live Christmas tree, or to invest in an artificial one. For some, the annual quest for "Thee Perfect Tree" is tradition, an important ritual to usher in the season, and to disregard this ceremony would be tantamount to boycotting Santa Claus. Others appreciate the convenience of a well-formed (albeit man-made) tree waiting in storage for them year to year. While it ultimately comes down to personal taste, there are some definite pros and cons one might want to consider before weighing in on the matter.

First, there is the question of cost. When they first came on the scene, artificial trees commanded staggering costs in comparison to live trees. However, consumers saw the price as an investment, since they would not be buying a tree again for several years. In that way, an artificial tree probably comes up less expensive in the end. Nowadays the cost of an artificial tree can vary from about the same you'd pay in a live tree lot, to several hundred dollars. Materials and size also account for the asking price.

The same can be said for live trees. Depending on whether you choose to cut down your own tree or buy a live, ball and burlapped, or otherwise containerized tree that can be planted after the holidays, you may pay anywhere from a few bucks to a few hundred. The disadvantage here is that you must still buy a new tree year after year-unless, of course you choose to decorate an outdoor tree. Tree species and size will also make a difference to your pocketbook.

The next subject up for debate is which choice is the most environmentally sound. Again, it all depends on the way you look at it. While artificial trees are reusable for several years, they are ultimately a petroleum-based product, the manufacturing of which takes its toll on the environment. Once an artificial tree is discarded there is little if any use for it, and most find their ways into landfills.

Live trees benefit the environment from beginning to end. Most are raised on farms, where they are tended for five to sixteen years before they are harvested. During these years they absorb carbon dioxide and other gases from the air and supply oxygen. Every acre of trees planted meets the oxygen needs of eighteen people! Christmas tree farms usually occupy stretches of land that won't support other crops, and they provide scenic byways. Furthermore, these trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife. For every tree harvested, one to three saplings are planted. After the holidays are over live trees continue to benefit the environment when they are recycled into mulch or compost. Some creative individuals have also gathered Christmas trees and used them in various other ways benefiting their communities (see http://www.christmastree.org).

A third point up for consideration is the aesthetic. There can be no argument, artificial trees are manufactured to be balanced and beautiful-there is no need for trimming, nor for worrying about the tree dying before the big day arrives. Neither will you need to vacuum up fallen needles every other day, or change the water. Your hands won't get sappy from touching the branches either. There are a variety of sizes and styles, modeled after a variety of tree species to suit every taste. There are even trees equipped with lights, so that cords are not seen snaking through the branches!

In contrast, a live tree takes more work to look beautiful, but there is nothing that compares to the natural thick pine scent it gives your home! One whiff, and you feel good enough to bring out that vacuum for the twelfth time that day…

A final word concerns safety and storage issues. Bringing a live tree into your home and outfitting it with electric lights can be a real safety hazard, especially if the tree is allowed to dry up. Artificial trees are generally made from flame-resistant materials that require little care. What they do require is a storage space to spend the bulk of the year. If you have a decent-sized basement, this may be no problem. Many people actually store their trees fully decorated to save time! But if you live in a tight space without storage, you may have no choice but to opt for the more "disposable" option of a real tree.

As you can see, when it comes to fake or fir, the choice is personal. Hopefully we've given you some things to think about to help you decide the best solution for this annual dilemma.

Emma Snow is a creator at for Ornament Shop http://www.ornament-shop.net and Craft Kits http://www.craft-kits.net leading portals for crafts and ornaments. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Emma_Snow http://EzineArticles.com/?Fake-or-Fir:-A-Christmas-Dilemma&id=370416


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Christmas Ornament Storage
By Holly Smythe

Proper Christmas ornament storage will keep your beautiful ornaments unmarred for next year and decades to follow. Antique glass ornaments are quite fragile. It's surprising that some have remained unbroken for a century! Modern ornaments, especially the ones made of treated glass, are stronger -- but they are still susceptible to damage. Proper storage and handling will preserve these beautiful ornaments for future generations to enjoy.

Handling Glass Ornaments
Glass decorations must be handled carefully and with due caution. When they are removed from storage, work on a padded surface as you remove their wrappings. Place a padded tree skirt under the tree to soften the impact, in case a glass ball falls from the tree.

An old-fashioned Christmas tree fence is useful to keep young children and pets away from the ornaments. If you don't have a fence, hang the delicate glass balls near the top of the tree, and put unbreakable spheres on low branches. It is helpful to spray a pet repellent under the tree.

If your ornaments are displayed for over two weeks, position them away from sunlight. Direct daylight can cause the paint to fade.

The colors painted on antique ornaments were generally favorite family recipes. These were not very durable. Age has made them yet more fragile. Most are water-soluble, so they should never be washed. Avoid glass cleaners and other chemical solutions as well. Some of the modern lacquers are also water-based and will last longer if the same precautions are followed.

Gently flick glass ornaments with a feather duster to clean them. Ostrich-feather dusters are especially effective.

Strong Christmas ornament storage boxes with close-fitting lids are needed to store ornaments. Many manufacturers produce cardboard or plastic containers. Some are specifically designed to store ornaments and have appropriately-sized compartments. Plastic boxes are sturdier than cardboard boxes, but the completely airless space they create is not necessarily suitable for valuable or antique ornaments. Special acid-free cardboard containers are the best choice for these valuables.

Each piece should be individually wrapped before being placed in a Christmas ornament storage container. Use acid-free tissue paper, or acid-free paper towels (the kind sold as microwavable). Newspaper is not a good choice; the chemicals in the print -- and in the paper too -- can harm the finish on the decoration.

Place bubble wrap or crumpled paper towels in the bottom of the Christmas ornament storage container before you put any wrapped decorations in it. If the box doesn't include sections, use extra tissue between decorations to provide more protection. Add a last layer on top of the ornaments before fastening the lid.

Place some silica gel desiccant in every container to remove dampness. You can buy it at craft stores.

For more security, store large glass decorations separately from little ones, and glass ornaments apart from wooden or metal ones. Mark all your Christmas ornament storage boxes plainly, so that you won't have to unpack all of them if you want a particular ornament later in the year.

Even with all this padding, ornaments can still be injured by extreme temperatures and/or humidity levels. These elements can cause stress fractures eventually. Unheated attics and cellars are poor locations for Christmas ornament storage. Keep ornaments in a closet instead.

You only need is some time and some thought to make your ornaments undamaged. Good Christmas ornament storage isn't hard, and it will preserve these fragile treasures for generations.

Holly Smythe writes more about Christmas and Christmas tree ornaments at http://www.christmasiscoming.info Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Holly_Smythe http://EzineArticles.com/?Christmas-Ornament-Storage&id=782303



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A Pickle of a Tradition - Christmas
By Emma Snow

As legend has it, in Germany parents decorate their Tannenbaums on Christmas Eve. The last ornament hung is die Weinachtsgurke-a delicate glass ornament in the shape of a pickle. This is a significant ornament, for the next morning the children will rush in to open their gifts from St. Nicholas. But the festivities can not begin until one of the children locates the elusive gherkin. The one who finds it gets to open the first gift, and may even receive an extra treat for his or her effort. So the story is told here in America. Glass Christmas Pickles are a popular ornament, and usually come with the curious legend tucked or printed on the box.

The oddest part about this legend is that it is virtually unknown in Germany. Nobody knows where it came from, or who started it. Well known is the fact that the decorating of Christmas Trees with lights, ornaments, and tinsel originated in Germany, but unless the Pickle Tradition was practiced in a remote region of the fatherland, it is likely that the legend was created at least in part by Americans, perhaps of German descent. There are several stories floating around about how the tradition may have started.

One rumor tells of a Bavarian-born Union soldier fighting in the Civil War named John Lower (or perhaps Hans Lauer) who was captured and sent to prison in Georgia. In poor health and starving, the prisoner begged for just one pickle before he died. A merciful guard took pity and found him a pickle. Miraculously, John lived, and after he returned home he began the tradition of the Christmas Pickle, promising good fortune to the one who found the special ornament on Christmas Day.

If this story seems a bit stretched, there is a second story being perpetuated in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where 24% of the population report German ancestry. Residents claim that hundreds of years ago two young Spanish boys, when traveling home from boarding school one Christmas Eve, sought refuge for the night at an inn. Here they encountered a cantankerous inn-keeper who trapped them in a pickle barrel. When St. Nicholas stopped at the inn that evening he sensed their distress and tapped the barrel with his staff, magically freeing them. Whether this story is true or not, Berrien Springs calls itself The Christmas Pickle Capital of the World.

The first ornaments used by Germans to decorate Christmas Trees were fruits, particularly apples, and nuts. These, along with the evergreen tree itself, represented the certainty that life would return in the spring. In the mid-eighteen hundreds, a few enterprising individuals living in the village of Lauscha (in the present-day state of Thuringen) began selling glass ornaments. Using fruit and nut molds at first, they eventually branched out, adding thousands of molds to their repertoire: angels, bells, saints, hearts, stars, and so on. Still, there is no evidence of their having made a pickle, or of the pickle tradition ever being practiced in Lauscha or any other German village.

Wherever the legend came from, the Christmas Pickle Tradition is here to stay. Several German glass ornament makers have capitalized on the story and offer a variety of gherkins, dills and cucumbers (some even donning cheery Santa caps!), perpetuating the myth even as their German neighbors vehemently deny having ever heard of it. Whatever the origin, the tradition is sure to bring a hearty dose of Christmas cheer. And isn't that the point?

About the Author: Emma Snow is a creator at for Ornament Shop http://www.ornament-shop.net and Craft Kits http://www.craft-kits.net leading portals for crafts and ornaments. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Emma_Snow http://EzineArticles.com/?A-Pickle-of-a-Tradition---Christmas&id=364195


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Dean & Nancy's Christmas Pages
Table of Contents:
| Christmas Party Games and Gift Exchanges | | Chocolate Gifts | - | American Made Gifts | - | Easy Decorations|
| Festive Web Graphics | - | Poems, Stories, Jokes | - | Gift Ideas for Men | - |
Trees & Ornaments |
| Christmas New Orleans Style | - | Holiday Recipes | - | The Reason for the Season | - | Crafts & Home Made Gifts |
| Christmas Links | -
| Winter Weddings | - | Shopping Sources |
| Christmas Music & Sounds | - | Tropical Island Christmas| - | Christmas Movies | - | Live Holiday Help & Chat |


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