Do you decorate the back of the tree?   1 comment

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I had this question come up as I was decorating my tree the other day…. “Do you decorate the back of the tree?” This assumes that no one will actually see the back as it is placed in a corner of the room and not visible. I say… why bother! Decorating for Christmas is stressful enough and you really do not need anything else to pull down your mood. Let me share with you a few tidbits of info regarding the practice of using a tree as part of our festive decorations. I find it fascinating… the traditions of Christmas. I recommend a little book which I own: “Stories Behind The Great Traditions of Christmas” by Ace Collins, Zondervan (c) 2003. He gives a historical perspective the use of the Christmas Tree (as well as many other traditions such as Christmas Cards, Santa Claus and many others) and says that the practice dates back more than one thousand years ago. I encourage you to read this book if the way we have come to have these traditions is the least bit interesting to you.

The evergreen tree was the first to be used, but rather than to celebrate Christmas, it was brought indoors by Vikings as a symbol that they too could have the strength to live through even the harshest winters in sub-zero temperatures. This practice dates back to about 1000 years after the death of Christ according to Mr. Collins.

As time went on there are marvelous stories of the importance of trees and their use in religious traditions. It may have been Martin Luther who introduced the idea of the decorated tree as a symbol for Christmas. Legend has it that Luther was walking home on a dark December night when he was struck by the beauty of the starlight as it came through the branches of the trees around his home. The German Protestant Reformer was so impressed by the beauty of this sight that he was moved to duplicate this effect inside his home. He placed a tree inside and he attached a candleholder then a candle to opposing brances…then lit it (wow – guess they didn’t have the fire codes we have now!). This practice caught on and is thought to be the beginning of what we now know as a lighted tree. Luther taught his family and friends that the tree represented the everlasting love of God. The evergreen’s color does not fade just as the Lord’s love for us never fades. The candlelight represents the hope that Christ brought to the world through His birth and resurrection.

Just as Luther, a German, was instrumental in our common day practice of the Christmas Tree, it was the Pennsylvania Germans who finally brought the Christmas tree to America to stay in the 1820’s.

As the tradition grew, it was enjoyed by the wealthy and the country’s growing middle class. Even the poorest families could afford to cut a tree down and bring it inside for no money. It was just about this time (1851) in history that a smart forward-thinking New York businessman named Mark Carr saw opportunity knocking. He took a huge horse-drawn sled into the Catskills, chopped down scores of evergreens and hauled them back in to New York City. The city dwellers were happy to buy his trees and soon Christmas tree lots could be found in every major city.

In the 1880s many Americans began to worry that the natural resource of trees might be depleted so alternative trees can into being. These included trees made of feathers and evolved in to my mother’s personal favorite…. the Aluminum Tree! How many of you Boomers out there can relate to that? The tree with the colorful dial which made the whole room look like a Disco? I really couldn’t find anything remotely Christmas-like in that but my Mom (a devout Christian) thought it was the be-all to end-all! God rest her sweet soul!

Regardless of our path leading up to it's importance, the Christmas tree stands as one of our most important rituals….but back to the question at hand! Do you decorate the BACK of the tree? I say no way! Do what you can to maximize your special Christmas Memory Making Time with the all important people in your life. Enjoy decorating the tree but make it a fun time of popcorn stringing, carol singing, apple cider drinking, special ornament hanging and house-full-of-laughter time. We only have one today….that's why they call it the PRESENT!

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Posted December 15, 2010 by dsgnmom in Uncategorized

One response to “Do you decorate the back of the tree?

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  1. I have an OCD about leaving things unfinished, and that’s one thing my wife won;t let me finish. She says it’s a waste of time, that only the side that is in view matters. We always decorate the tree together, with Regis Philbin’s Christmas CD playing in the background. By the way, I love Regis Philbin. I know, it’s an odd thing to say, but he is just an awesome guy! Anyway, I try to sneak some decorations to the back of the tree, but usually get caught.

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