Did you put your Christmas tree up on November 1st? Or did you wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday? While some people want to celebrate the Christmas season for two full months and others settle for just a few days, most people can agree — the Christmas season starts the moment you put up your tree. Decorating our trees with tinsel, lights, and ornaments is a tradition everyone looks forward to. Lake Forrest Prep, an Orlando private school, shares the history of some of our favorite holiday traditions.
Like most Christmas traditions, tinsel originates from Germany. Tinsel was originally made of thin strips of silver, meaning only wealthy families could afford to use it to decorate their tree. Plastic tinsel, however, has different origins. Legend has it that one year, a family couldn’t afford to decorate their Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, a spider crawled into the tree and covered the tree in cobwebs. Overnight, those cobwebs turned into silver and gold strands to decorate the tree! Thanks to the Christmas spider, tinsel became a decoration for all families.
Unsparingly, we can thank Thomas Edison for Christmas lights. In 1890, the Edison company marketed lighting services for Christmas, and the tradition began to spread. In 1895, President Grover Cleveland began to decorate the White House’s Christmas trees with string lights. Once people saw the twinkling lights on the White House lawn, they began to decorate their own trees with string lights.
What we think of today as the “modern” Christmas tree actually originates from 16th-century Germany. Small evergreen trees were decorated with candles, apples, nuts, and berries. When Germans immigrated to America in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the tradition with them. As more and more people rushed to decorate their trees with baubles and knickknacks, stores began marketing ornaments. Today the retail market for seasonal decorations is valued at a total of $27 billion.
The holiday season is a great time to think about where our traditions come from. Lake Forrest Prep, an Orlando private school, encourages students to study the history around them. Learn more about our curriculum by visiting the school or speak with our admissions staff by calling (407) 331-5144.