Christmas Tree History Timeline

3100 BCE – 300 CE:Ancient Egyptians celebrate the Winter Solstice in December by bringing the green leaves of date palms into the home as a symbol of the triumph of life over death.
753 BCE – 476 CE:Ancient Romans celebrate Saturnalia, a feast which takes place at the end of December. Customs include giving gifts and using evergreen branches as decorations.
2000 BCE –500 CE:Pagans of Northern Europe believe that trees hold spirits, gifts and sacrifices are hung from tree branches. Evergreen branches are hung in doorways to keep away evil spirits. The Druids use holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life.
325 – 1000 CE:The Roman Catholic Church converts pagans to Christianity. Clergymen are encouraged to make Christian interpretations of pagan customs to help convert non-believers.
675 – 754 CE:St. Boniface goes on a mission to Germany. He uses the evergreen tree as a symbol of Christian faith.
1200 – 1500 CE:Paradise Plays become popular in Germany. An evergreen tree decorated with apples is used to represent the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
1400 – 1600 CE:Many legends develop surrounding trees miraculously blossoming and bearing fruit at Christmas.
1483 – 1546 CE:Martin Luther notices the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir tree. He recaptures this for his family by cutting down a small fir and placing candles in its branches.
1510 CE:A tree is decorated and burned in the central market square of Riga, Latvia at Christmas time. Some claim this to be the first Christmas tree.
c. 1650 CE:Theologian, Professor Dannhauer living in Strasburg, Germany writes of a Christmas or fir-tree which locals decorate with flowers, dolls, and sweetmeats.
1776 CE:German Hessians, fighting Americans during the Revolutionary War, bring their tradition of decorated trees at Christmas to America.
1800 CE:The Christmas tree is brought to England by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. The first artificial trees are seen in Germany. They were made of wood, shaped like pyramids, and adorned with evergreen branches, ribbons, and candles.
1846 CE:Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, make the Christmas tree widely popular after they are shown in the Illustrated London News with a beautifully decorated tree.
1851 CE:The first Christmas tree lot is established in America by Mark Carr in New York City.
1856 CE:The first Christmas tree appears in the White House while Franklin Pierce is in office.
1880 CE:Artificial trees are created in Germany in response to deforestation problems. They were made from dyed green goose feathers.
1882 CE:Edward H. Johnson, Thomas Edison’s business partner, put the first string of electric lights on a Christmas tree. They were hand-wired red, white and blue light bulbs.
1923 CE:President Calvin Coolidge starts the tradition of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the White House lawn.
1933 CE:The first formal tree-lighting ceremony takes place at Rockefeller Center. Unofficially, construction workers put up a tree in 1931 while building the complex.
1958 CE:Aluminum trees are manufactured in Chicago by a company called Modern Coatings. These were the first artificial trees in a color other than green.
2010 CE:Between 25 – 33 million Christmas trees will sold in the United States this year.