Bring a tree inside the house? Outrageous! Pagan! Messy!
Well, I doubt the head of early Colonial American families pointed out the last of the above trio. But a Christmas tree as decoration in every American and many European home did not arrive with the Christ Child, the Magi, or First-century Christians.
Exact origins are lost in time and blended with pagan customs of special honor to evergreen trees. It may have roots with St. Boniface, a 7th century monk in Thuringia (Germany), using a fir tree as a visual explanation of the Trinity. Or it may have come meaningful later. But when Martin Luther added candles in the 16th century the tree as a Christmas symbol was established.
German immigrants brought the tradition to America. It remained localized in their communities until Queen Victoria allowed sketches of her family around a Christmas tree to be published. Near the end of the 19th century they were popular, large, and highly decorated. Candles were still the only form of lighting and remained so into the 20th century. My mother recalls candles on the tree during her childhood — lit for a short time, adults watching, and a wet sponge within reach.
Will you include a tree in your celebration this year? Artificial or real? Cut or living? Family heirloom decorations? The newest trend? Or a mixture of old and new tradition?