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Christmas Tree

Over the years its fair to say some Christmas traditions have certainly dwindled in their popularity (we’re looking at you - yule log) but as festive customs go, none have fared better than the humble Christmas tree.

An enduring symbol of Christmas, people have been bringing trees in to their homes at Christmas time for centuries, that much is certain. A little less certain however is how it all began.

Whilst a small handful of European cities argue over laying claim to the first documented use of the modern Christmas tree, most agree the tradition originated somewhere in central Europe, most likely early modern Germany, some time in the 1500s.

A picture from Germany in 1521 portrays a man on horse back dressed as a bishop (a possible reference to St. Nicholas), parading a tree through the streets. The first person attributed with bringing a Christmas tree into the home however was the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther.

In the early days the tree itself would have been decorated with handmade paper roses, apples, wafers and sweetmeats. It wasn’t until much later, the 18th century in fact, that trees began to be illuminated by candles. These of course were eventually replaced by Christmas lights with the arrival of electricity.

Some of the earliest Christmas Trees to arrive in the UK came sometime in the early 1800s. Queen Charlotte the German wife of George III is said to have set up the first known English Christmas tree at The Queen's Lodge, Windsor in December 1800.

It wasn’t until 1841 though that the tree gained real popularity, when Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. As a result the Christmas Tree very quickly become popular in the UK and USA and firmly sealed its place in British and American homes.

Traditionally an evergreen fir tree, Over time the Christmas trees in the UK have taken the form of a number of varieties, the Norway spruce the Nordmann fir, the Noble fir and the Blue spruce to name a few.

In certain parts of the world though it is not uncommon to find other species filling the role. In New Zealand for example they have the Metrosideros excelsa (dubbed the New Zealand Christmas tree), a coastal evergreen tree that produces a brilliant display of red flowers made up of a mass of stamens. It has been associated with Christmas since the mid 1800s and features heavily on a number of Christmas cards.

If all this talk of Christmas trees has sent you in to a needle-shedding panic, it might be worth visiting the British Christmas Tree Growers Association’s website for tips and advice on keeping your tree alive over the Christmas period.

We will of course be back in the New Year with more interesting and informative blog posts, covering a range of topics from landscape gardening and design through to industry trends, nature and the environment.

Until then though, from all the team at Landscaping Solutions, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.