Where did the first tree come from?

The history of the Christmas tree - origin and custom

The origin of the Christmas tree lies in pagan customs

Many centuries ago, evergreen plants were a symbol of fertility and vitality in pagan cultures. For example, the Teutons placed fir branches in public places and in front of their houses for the winter solstice.

In northern areas, fir branches were hung indoors in winter to prevent evil spirits from entering and to nourish hope for the next spring. In the Middle Ages, entire trees were even decorated for certain festivities, such as the maypole. According to unconfirmed statements, members of the bakeries from Freiburg im Breisgau were said to have hung a Christmas tree with gingerbread, apples, fruits and nuts as early as 1419.

The oldest evidence of a decorated Christmas tree, on the other hand, comes from the guild chronicle of the municipal handicrafts in Bremen from the year 1597. Over time, the custom has passed from the guilds to urban families. At the beginning of the 17th century, for example, decorated Christmas trees are said to have adorned people's living rooms in Strasbourg in Alsace. The Duchess Dorothea Sibylle of Silesia decorated the first Christmas tree with candles in 1611.

In the 18th century the custom first spread among high officials and wealthy citizens in the cities, since fir trees were still scarce in Central Europe at that time and therefore very expensive.

One of the first literary mentions of the Christmas tree comes from this phase. In his novel “The Sorrows of Young Werther” from 1774, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had his protagonist enchanted on a Sunday before Christmas by a tree decorated with wax lights, candy and apples.