christmas tree history

Where did the Christmas tree tradition begin?

Have you ever wondered where our Christmas tree tradition began? No doubt there are several stories regarding the start of this custom, and here’s one I’d like to share:

“It’s now been more than 150 years since Professor Charles Minnigerode decorated Williamsburg’s first Christmas tree,” says Robert C. Wilburn, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

“A German native, the College of William and Mary professor brought the festive tradition with him to the United States. When Nathaniel Beverley Tucker invited Professor Minnigerode to celebrate the holiday season at the St. George Tucker House, he trimmed a tree with candles and fancy paper decoration as a present for Tucker’s children.”

Beverley Randolph Tucker, a descendant, says that “regular sized candles were cut down and fastened on the tree, nuts were gilded, and other ornaments made. Presents were probably not distributed at this time, but there were songs, games, and refreshments.” (Tales of the Tuckers, 1942).

That was the humble beginning of what has evolved into an American tradition observed in millions of homes. However, it took a while to really catch on. Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect used apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

If you are considering the purchase of a luxury home, estate, vineyard or winery in Napa Valley or any of the surrounding communities, to celebrate the holidays next year with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, please call me at 707-738-4820 or email me at [email protected]. Don’t forget to LIKE me on Facebook and have a very Merry Christmas!

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