Where Did the Christmas Tree Come From?

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The tradition of the Christmas tree originates with pagan worshippers who decorated their homes with green boughs during the winter solstice. They believed that the long nights occurred because the sun god was ill. Placing a bough in the home during the solstice celebrated the waning of winter's power.

Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with green palm rushes to celebrate the god Ra's triumph over death. The winter solstice was known as Saturnalia to the ancient Romans, who celebrated the bounty of fruits and vegetables from the god Saturn. The Vikings believed that evergreens were special to Balder, the sun god, and the Celts believed evergreen boughs symbolized everlasting life.

Eventually, Christianity adopted the practice of using evergreen boughs to decorate homes during the winter solstice, which occurs around the Christmas season. The first use of dedicated "Christmas" trees began in Germany. German immigrants spread this practice across the globe, although New England Puritans and others considered it a pagan practice and a mockery of Christmas.

The Christmas tree reached new heights of popularity when Queen Victoria and her German husband adopted the tradition in 1846. This practice quickly spread to the United States, and soon ornaments were being manufactured for Christmas trees. By the early 20th century, the majority of households had a Christmas tree in the home.