Come and See… the Christmas Tree!
Thursday 26 November 2020
This week at school, there has been a great deal of excited chatter about Christmas. It appears that many of us are eagerly putting up our Christmas trees and decorations early this year. Leaving behind the gloom of Covid-19, we are busily lighting up our homes, adorning the tree with precious ornaments and preparing for some Yuletide fun with gusto!
So where did this tradition of decorating a fir tree for our homes come from?
The tradition started in Germany in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. If trees were sparse, some made pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles.
It is a widely believed story that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, was the first person to decorate a tree with lighted candles. The story goes that, walking home one winter evening whilst composing a sermon, Luther was overwhelmed by the beauty of a fir tree set against the backdrop of a brilliant star-lit sky. Reaching home, Luther found it difficult to convey the beauty he had experienced, and so venturing out again, he chopped down a fir and brought it home. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected the tree in the family's main room and secured lighted candles to its branches with wire.
Having a Christmas tree at home became incredibly fashionable in Britain after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are said to have popularised the tradition. In 1846, these much favoured royals, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. This image not only inspired a new British trend, but also influenced the fashion-conscious elements of east-coast American high society. The Christmas tree had arrived!
A much celebrated Christmas tree is the Norwegian spruce (Picea abies), which lights up Trafalgar Square each year from early December onwards. Since 1947, the people of Norway have given the tree to Londoners as a gesture of grateful thanks for Britain's support of Norway during the second World War.
This year's tree is 80 years old, 23 metres high and weighs around 2,000 tonnes! It was felled from the Nordmarka Forest before embarking on its epic journey to London. For the first time since 1947, the lighting up ceremony took place virtually this Christmas; you can enjoy the ceremony here.
Every year The Poetry Society commissions a poem, welcoming Norway’s gift of a Christmas tree to London’s Trafalgar Square as part of its Look North More Often project. This year’s poem, ‘The Christmas Pine’, is by Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and a former children’s laureate.
As part of Queenswood's Christmas celebrations, our Gardens and Estates team provided us with two beautiful trees this week, one to light up our Reception area and another to welcome our girls as they pass Centre.