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Even before Christianity began, trees that were evergreens were important to ancient cultures. People thousands of years ago hung displays of evergreen over doors and windows. It was often done by superstitious people to keep bad spirits, sickness, and witches away from the household.
Romans and Celtish Druids also hung evergreens for various reasons.
The Christmas tree as it is today was started in Germany in the 1500s. Most scholars credit Martin Luther, the Great Reformer, with adding lit candles to a Christmas tree. It is said that he was outside at night one night and saw the beauty of stars twinkling through the branches of trees as he looked toward the sky.
The first Christmas tree in America most likely was put up by an immigrant from Germany. They did not become popular for a while, however. People in early America wanted nothing to do with what they considered Pagan traditions, especially when connected with something as holy as Christmas.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|