German Christmas Tree Traditions

The Christmas tree that you set up in your home each year might be a tradition for your home, but do you really know who started this tradition? The Germans were among the first to decorate trees in their homes. They didn’t have a lot of lights or ornaments that you probably use on your tree. Instead, they made their decorations and often used cookies, candies and sometimes real candles. Martin Luther is sometimes linked to the custom of decorating a Christmas tree. Special holders were used on the trees so that the candles wouldn’t catch the limbs on fire. Today, they typically use electric lights instead.

Decorating trees started around 1550. Emigrants from Germany brought the idea to the United States a short time later. Germans were among the first to use evergreens as a Christmas tree. Some families had traditions of using 12 ornaments on Christmas trees, such as golden rings, small fruit baskets, and flower baskets. Each ornament that adorned the tree had a special meaning. This is also where the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” is thought to originate since it’s the same number of ornaments used on trees in Germany. Now, trees are decorated with numerous ornaments and have more of a modern design.