History of the Holidays: Christmas Trees

This year we participated in the Leola Community Christmas, hosted by the Upper Leacock Fire Company and the Keystone Majorette Corps.  As a community event, businesses, families, and community groups from the area all decorated a Christmas tree or exhibit for the Christmas display walk-through that’s ope to the public on weekends until Christmas.  We chose a theme of “Christmas in the 1800’s” and decorated our tree with traditional and handmade ornaments.

Christmas Trees of the 1800’s

~ The tradition of a Christmas tree originated in Germany.

~ The first recorded Christmas tree in America was for children in the German Moravian Church’s settlement in Bethlehem, PA, 1747, but wasn’t common outside of German communities.

~ In 1841 Prince Albert (who was born in Germany) had a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle and when images of that tree were published a number of years later the tradition took off here in America.

~ The first electric Christmas Tree lights appeared in the 1880’s, but they were costly and most people in the 1800’s still lit their Christmas trees with small candles.

~ The first Christmas tree in the White House wasn’t until 1889 during the Harrison presidency – it was decorated with toy soldiers and glass ornaments.

~ Christmas trees in the 1800’s were decorated with dried fruits, paper streamers, hard cookies like gingerbread baked in festive shapes, candles, and other ornaments that were lovingly created by the hands of family and friends.

~Glass ornaments for Christmas trees also originated in Germany in the mid-1800’s when glass makers around Lauscha, Germany began mass-producing the decorations and shipping them around the world in the late 1800’s.