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The Christmas tree - some fun facts

Want to look impressively clever while you’re decorating the Christmas tree this year? Here are some fun facts for you to have up your sleeve.
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While trees have been used to celebrate the winter season for thousands of years, the Christmas tree with its Christian association dates back nearly 2000 years to St Boniface, a missionary to Germany. He told pagans to stop worshipping trees but to gather round them to celebrate as Christians.

The first decorated Christmas tree we know of was in Riga, Latvia in 1510. In the early days of the Christmas tree, it was often decorated by edible ornaments, including fruit and nuts.

England’s first Christmas tree was brought to Windsor by Charlotte, wife of George III, in 1800 but the term ‘Christmas tree’ did not come into common use in English until the 1840s, when Prince Albert made the Christmas tree fashionable in both the UK and the United States.

Charles Dickens championed the Christmas tree, and boosted the popularity of Christmas with his book ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843.

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Image credit: photographer: Heritage Auctions, Chapman & Hall, 1843. First edition.

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While Denmark’s not the home of the Christmas tree as many think – it’s certainly the biggest exporter of the most popular species of tree in Europe, the Nordmann Fir. The Danes are famous for how they decorate their trees with silver or gold stars on the top, their national flag, drums and trumpets, cookies, candy and often real candles.

As candles start fires, it was a relief when Christmas tree lights appeared soon after the invention of the light bulb. Thomas Edison’s partner in his Illumination Company, Edward H. Johnson, had the idea. He wired a strong of red, white and blue bulbs, decorating his Christmas tree with them. He was so enthusiastic about electricity, he also used it to make his tree revolve.

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Talking of over-the-top Christmas trees, by the beginning of the 20th century the department store Christmas tree was born – with the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York first appearing in 1933. Famously, this iconic tree is now topped by a giant Swarovski Crystal star.

Now that you’re officially an expert on Christmas tree history, you can enjoy annoying your friends and family with your newfound knowledge. Just remember to dodge when they start to throw decorations at you…

Happy Christmas!

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