Putting lights on our Christmas trees was established a few centuries ago, and began with candles being used to represent stars.
A Tradition Established In Germany
When the tradition became established in Germany in the 17th Century it was also logical that Christmas trees should be illuminated – because they were left outside and could be bumped into during dark winter days. The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree with lights still continued when it became more fashionable to bring a tree indoors.
The Rise In Popularity Of The Christmas Tree In Victorian Times
Having a Christmas tree at Christmas was really popularised in Britain during the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The idyllic setting of Victoria, her husband Prince Albert, and their children enjoying the festive season around a Christmas tree captured people’s imagination, and led to a surge in the public purchasing Christmas trees for their own family celebrations.
The tree itself would be decorated with candles in Victorian times, and this was heavy with symbolism, and to act as a reminder that Christmas was a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Notably, with candles representing the Star of Bethlehem. But, as homes started to benefit from electricity, candles were replaced by the more safe coloured Christmas lights that we know today. Sweets and cakes were added to the decoration of a Christmas tree, too.
Modern Christmas Tree Decorations
Later, it became fashionable to add other things to a Christmas tree to give it an extra sparkle, including tinsel. In the late 19th Century adding ornaments to a Christmas tree also became a tradition. Today, presents are usually left under a Christmas tree, with an angel or star placed on top of the tree. These items act as a reminder of the religious meaning of Christmas. Because of environmental concerns, artificial Christmas trees are often preferred to the traditional fir tree, but Christmas lights are still very much as popular as ever.