Decorated Christmas Trees are so much a part of Christmas all over the world; it is thought they were first used as a way of brightening up the home on dreary winter days, along with holly and mistletoe. Australia celebrates Christmas in the hot summer months of course but a tree still brings sunshine into the house, their glittering lights brightening up night time windows, even though it does not get dark until around 9pm in some parts of the country.1
To begin with people would cut branches from fir trees and bring these into the houses. This started around 1500ad, 500 years ago. (My own children like to take a branch of the tree, decorate it, and put it in their bedrooms). It was not until about a hundred years later that whole trees were used. The tradition can be traced back to Northern Germany and it eventually spread to the rest of the world. 2 The Breman guild chronicle of 1570 reports on a decorated fir tree outside of the local guild-house. It was decorated not with the shiny baubles and lights we are familiar with but with apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers. Children would be allowed to collect these on Christmas day. This is similar to our use of Candy Canes on our trees today.
Although lots of different species of trees are used as Christmas trees the Monterey Pine is the most common in Australia. It is named after the place it originally came from: the Monterey Peninsula of California. It is ideally suited to Australia’s dry climate, where drought is commonplace. When rain is in short supply we have to be careful with how much we use and Australia has had water restrictions in place all the time for a few years now.3
Australia has a tree (Nuytsia floribunda) that is called the Christmas Tree because it displays its bright orange bottle brush type flowers during the Christmas season. It is part of the mistletoe family and found mostly in Western Australia.
- Sunrise and sunset times in Australia
- Christmas season celebrations in Australia
- Drought in Australia and Water restrictions Australia
Tomorrow I will talk about how using real Christmas Trees is good for the environment and in future posts we will discover more tree traditions and look at some of the biggest and brightest Christmas Tree displays around the world. I will leave you once again with a Christmas song:
Other versions on YouTube –
- O Tannenbaum – Vienna Boys Choir
- A parody of the Christmas song “O Christmas Tree,” by Sam Stokes that makes fun of the fact that there are so many translations of this song that no two people sing it the same.