So how did the Tree become part of Christmas?
One legend tells of St. Boniface who encountered some German
pagans about to sacrifice a child at the base of an Oak tree. He cut down the
Oak to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew in its place. St Boniface told
the pagans it was the Tree of Life and represented Christ.
Another legend ascribes the Christmas tree to Martin Luther,
the founder of Protestantism. The legend tells how Luther saw the stars shining
through the branches of a forest. The beauty of this so impressed him that he
cut down a small evergreen and brought it into his home to recreate the scene
using lighted candles on the tree's branches to represent the twinkling night
Germany seems to have started the use of a decorated tree as
part of the holiday celebration. When trees were scarce a wooden pyramid was
sometimes used and this would be decorated with branches and candles.
In Britain the Christmas tree tradition was popularised in 1841
by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, (both of German descent), who decorated a
tree at Windsor Castle with candles, fruits, gingerbread and sweets.
The use of the Christmas tree spread to America with German
immigrants. Nowadays the Christmas tree, (real or synthetic), is seen worldwide
in homes, Churches, workplaces and cities.
A famous tree is the one placed every year in Trafalgar Square,
London, a gift from the people of Norway in gratitude for the help that Britain
gave during World War II.
Decide on where you will place the tree. Will it be seen from all sides or
will some of it be up against a wall? Be sure to choose a spot away from heat
sources, such as TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Place the tree clear
of doors. Measure the height available in the room where the tree will be
If you are getting a real tree, choose a fresh one. A fresh
tree will have a healthy green appearance with few browning needles. Needles
should be flexible and not fall off if you run a branch through your hand.
Raise the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it on the butt end. Green
needles should not drop off the tree.
Keep your tree fresh throughout the holiday season. If you are
not putting the tree up right away store it in an unheated garage or some other
area out of the wind and cold (freezing) temperatures. Make a fresh one inch
cut on the butt end and place the tree in a bucket of warm water. When you
decide to bring the tree indoors, make another fresh one inch cut and place the
tree in a sturdy stand that holds at least 1/2 gallon of water. Be sure to keep
the water level about the base of the tree.
Check all Christmas tree lights for worn electrical cords. Use
UL approved electrical decorations and cords. Unplug tree lights at night.
Miniature lights produce less heat and reduce the drying effect on the tree.
Lights Do I Need?
The starting point is 100 lights for each foot of tree. For
example, if you have a 7 foot tree, you will want to have a minimum of 700
lights. You will want to add additional strands if your tree is fuller than
average, or if you like a heavily lighted tree.
Before you place a single light on the tree, you must test
your lights. Plug each strand in to make sure it is working. Lights go on the
tree firstbefore tree toppers, ornaments or anything else. Plug them in
before you start. It's much easier to position a lighted strand.
Placing Lights on the Tree Starting at the base, wrap the cord
around the branch until you reach the tip. Wrap back toward the base, wrapping
individual branches as you go.
Have you ever noticed how some trees have wonderful depth and
dimension when lighted? That effect is achieved by wrapping lights around the
branches. To do this, you will want to start with a special multiple-socket
extension cord, often called a light controller or holiday hookup.
For most trees, you'll want to buy a green cord, although white is available
for use with white or silver trees. You want it to be as unobtrusive as
possible. Start by attaching the cord to the trunk of the tree with colorless
twine or a green pipe cleaner. This will give you a cord that runs vertically
down your tree, with outlets spaced at regular intervals.
Once the cord is secured, grab a string of lights and start at the top of the
tree. Plug the strand into an outlet near the top. Starting at the base of a
branch, wrap the cord around the branch. Continue until you reach the tip of
the branch, then wrap back toward the base. As you work out and back, wrap
around a few individual branches. When you're back to the base, start on a new
branch. This technique will give your tree dimension and depth, but make sure
you don't overdo it.