The History & Delights that Brought the Christmas Tree into the Homes of Cirencester
26th November 2013
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The traditional Christmas tree is a fir tree and during the season, many householders in Cirencester will either opt to represent this with an artificial tree or real tree for that traditional smell of pine.  

Decorating the tree is usually a shared / family occasion with everyone helping out, but there will always be that one perfectionist who will move all the decorations round when no one is looking to make it the perfect Christmas centrepiece.

The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, put a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle that he he’d brought home from Germany. The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.

Christmas trees were decorated with candles in Victorian times to remind children of the stars in the sky at the time of the birth of Jesus.  Using candles was a great fire hazard.  Today, candles have been replaced by white or coloured electric lights and in some cases LED or fibre optic lighting.

In the early years of their popularity in England, Christmas trees were also decorated with sweets and cakes hung with ribbon. The retail chain Woolworths first sold manufactured Christmas tree ornaments in 1880, which proved to be very popular.

As we know, Christmas trees are now decorated with tinsel, lights and small ornaments, which hang from the branches.  Chocolate coins or chocolate shapes are sometimes hung on the Christmas tree and presents are placed under the tree.

An angel, star or fairy is usually put on top of the tree. The angel reminds Christians of the angel who brought glad tidings of great joy to the shepherds in the field.

A long time ago each winter, people used to decorate trees outsidee as, when the trees had lost their leaves, it was felt that the spirits living in them had abandoned them. This made people very worried, because they believed that without tree-spirits the trees would not grow leaves ever again.  To encourage the tree-spirits to return, people dressed the trees with strips of coloured cloth.  They hoped by making the trees look beautiful, the spirits would return to live in them ready for the spring.  To everyone's delight this worked and every year, in spring, the trees burst into leaf again.

It was natural to add similar decorations to the trees, when the new custom of bringing small fir trees indoors began in Germany, even though fir trees had not lost their leaves.

Over time people added different decorations to the tree branches, including strings of beads, gingerbreads, chocolate, fruit and sweets.  And today we have a wide variety of ready prepared decorations in boxes in the loft or on offer from the shops.  This year, will you stick with the decorations from the loft, visit the shops to see what Cirencester has on offer or maybe share some time with the family making some of your own decorations?

Enjoy decorating your tree and sharing its delights with family and friends this Christmas.


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