Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas trees from Freiburg

As you all sit around your Christmas trees today (what are you doing reading this blog at the Christmas tree?), you should all think about Freiburg, Germany, where it all began:

The oldest report tells about a tree decorated with apples, wafers, nuts and gingerbread which has been erected [sic] by the guild of bakery servants in Freiburg i. B. [sic] in 1419. This simple decoration was often enhanced by paper flowers, sugar canes, cheese or sausage and could be raided by the [sic] children.

(Those folks should get a real translator...) While it might sound crazy to be dragging trees into your home, around 1400 a lot of the homes in Freiburg would have been more hut than house -- and would probably have had a fireplace in the middle somewhere with a simple hole in the roof to let the smoke out. People were dragging wood into their homes all the time, so a live tree to decorate would probably not have seemed that unusual at all.

It also turns out that, until the 20th century, a lot of Christmas trees were actually hung up from the ceiling. Queen Victoria, who was of German descent, used to hang them up herself.

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