The first written record of a decorated Christmas tree
was in 1510 in Riga, Latvia when men representing the local merchants' guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then set fire to it. According to the National Christmas Tree Association
, roses were used for many years and are considered to be a symbol for the Virgin Mary.
During the 17th century, apples were commonly used in Germany to decorate Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association
. This practice was a holdover from the 14th and 15th centuries when evergreen boughs hung with apples were the only prop used in the "miracle plays" that were performed at the churches on the day before Christmas. December 24th was known as "Adam & Eve's Day" in the early Christian calendar, and the plays were used as ways of teaching the Bible to a largely illiterate population.
During the 18th century, edible ornaments were so commonly used on Christmas trees that they were often called "sugar trees." During this time, lighted candles started being used as decorations in France.
German settlers introduced the Christmas tree to the United States during the 19th century and they rapidly grew in popularity. At first, Christmas trees were tabletop in size before the floor-to-ceiling-sizes became more commonly used, according to the association.
Do you want to make your Christmas tree a striking one this year? Here are a few tips to help you:
1. Choose a theme and color scheme
Begin by choosing a theme and color scheme for your tree. Such is the tradition in the White House
, where First Families have selected a theme for the White House Christmas Tree each year, beginning with the Kennedy family in 1961. There's no need to throw out old ornaments that don't fit into your current theme, as they might be work with themes selected in the future. This year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York decorated its 20 ft. tall blue spruce (above) with a collection of 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs. Flanking the tree's base are groups of realistic crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene at its base. The tree is currently on display in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall.
2. Work from the inside out
Once you have figured out what your theme is, work from the inside out. Be sure to string your lights before hanging the garland and ornaments. Metallic-colored ribbon works well as garland.
3. Hang your "filler" ornaments
Decorate the backdrop of your tree with your filler ornaments (solid colors or simply decorated) before hanging the thematic ones. Wire or ribbon works best for hanging ornaments, as they will provide more stability. While many ornaments come with hooks attached, these tend to fall off the branches easily.
4. Hang large ornaments low and small ones high
Larger ornaments often work best on the lower branches of the tree; use the smaller ones for the higher branches. Metallic ornaments and garland are a great choice, as they will reflect the light emitted from your Christmas lights.
For a peak at some of the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world, click on the slide show below. Here you will see a range from traditional Christmas trees to those that are futuristic.