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The Origin of the Christmas Tree


By Valentina O'Connor

The Royal family in the 19th Century brought great popularity to several traditions. If it was not for the monarchy, we might not celebrate with a decorated Christmas tree. It must be said that the modern Christmas tradition originated in medieval Germany, due to Queen Charlotte’s German background she began to introduce the idea to Britain. She passed down these traditions to her daughter Queen Victoria who was also influenced by her German husband Prince Albert. One of Queen Charlotte’s biographers Dr John Watkins provided a quote ‘from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, and raisins in papers, fruits, and toys, most tastefully arranged; the whole illuminated by small wax candles. He continues by saying, ‘after the company had walked round and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets it bore, together with a toy, and then all returned home quite delighted. After this party, Christmas trees started to become popular in upper-class circles.

By the time Queen Charlotte died in 1818, the Christmas tree tradition was firmly established in society, and it continued to flourish throughout the 1820s and 30s. By 1860 through Prince Alberts's influence, there was rarely a well-off family in the UK that did not have a Christmas tree in their houses such as in their hall. All the December parties held for children on this date featured gift-filled Christmas trees as their main attraction. By then, it was generally accepted as the festive tree.

Although, it was first introduced in England by Queen Charlotte. It expanded to society through Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s influence. Due to situations such as the prince sending decorated trees to schools and army barracks around Windsor. Also, an engraving published in 1848 consisted of the Queen, the Prince, and all their children decorating a tree. This was made to further the idea of the family-focused culture of the era.

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