Christmas is the perfect time for us to indulge in a little romance. Festive decorations, preparing and baking annual favorites, and selecting the perfect gift for a loved one can be a joy. We can also embrace the traditions that are special to each of our families in our celebration of the holiday.
Romance authors periodically use Christmas as a backdrop for the their love stories. Christmas can add a unique flavor to the plot by weaving holiday activities, décor, and family dynamics for a merry dance between the hero and heroine until love conquers all. The Christmas tree is one of the "props" that you can find in any Christmas romance story.
The rite of tree trimming dates back centuries in many countries and cultures. The purpose and décor varied from ancient times to the Christian era. The focus of the tree changed from a non-Christian rite to signify Christ bringing new life to the world. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther would also do much to further the popularity of the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree as part of the Christmas celebration would extend from Germany to Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark by the nineteenth century. How did the Christmas tree become a part of the British and American modern holiday celebration?
Queen Victoria & Prince Albert
Prince Albert brought the German tradition of Christmas tree decorating to Britain. In 1841, he and Queen Victoria put up their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle. The citizenry would see the royal family enjoying their tree in an illustration in the Illustrated London News in 1846. The fashion of decorating a Christmas tree was soon popular! The festively decorated tree (as seen in the picture) was placed on the top of a table. By the 1880s, the Christmas tree moved from the table to the floor. Tall Christmas trees then became the fashion, families making sure they selected a tree of lofty height to symbolize their wealth and position in society.
Christmas Tree Décor
Until Christmas lights became available later in the nineteenth century, candles were placed on the branches. The first American patent for Christmas lights was filed in 1882 providing a safer light alternative to candles. In 1882, Edward Johnson, a colleague of Thomas Edison, had made a string of electric lights, which comprised 80 small electric light bulbs. He had the honor of lighting the first Christmas tree in New York via electricity. Strings of lights would not become available to the public until about 1890.
In past years, families spent a great deal of time making their Christmas tree decorations. Decorations varied from paper baskets with sugared almonds, cakes hung from the branches by ribbons, and pouches with secret gifts. In the 1860s, small toys were hung on the branches and eventually placed beneath the tree.