Article by Sam Jaim
Have you wondered how people from other parts of the world decorate their Christmas trees? You may have assumed that they do theirs just like the way you do, just like everybody else does. Letâ??s try to delve as to how something so common as the Christmas tree can be embellished in entirely dissimilar ways.
German Christmas Trees(Weihnachtsbaum )Much of the current Christmas traditions emanated from Germany. There are at least 2 versions as to how Weihnachtsbaum came into being.
The first speaks of Martin Luther who had gone into the woods for a walk near his place. He was amazed at how the stars beautifully sparkled through the forest, and wanted to share the splendid beauty to his wife so he slashed down a fir tree and brought it home with him. Then he placed small candles on the treeâ??s branches and pronounced that it symbolized the beautiful Christmas sky.
On the other hand, another legend has it that in the early 16th century, the Germans practiced two combined customs that were performed in different countries â?? the Paradise tree and the Christmas Light. The former is a fir tree adorned with apples and symbolized the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The second one is a small pyramid-like frame decorated with tinsel, glass balls and a candle on top, and represented the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. If we change the tinsel balls and cookies for the apples and cookies and the lights, it is apparent that the Germans created the tree that most of us are familiar with.
Norwegian Christmas Trees (Juletre)Oftentimes, Norwegians make trip to the woods and select a Juletre themselves. It was not until the latter of half of the 19th century that the Juletre was introduced in Norway.
On the Eve of Christmas, it was usually set up by the parents as the kids wait for them to finish. A Juletre is decorated with tinsel, Norwegian flags, white lights, and other decors. Children make use of shiny, colored papers to make paper baskets filled with nuts or candies. Colored lights are becoming popular however the white lights resemble more the candles they are supposed to represent.
Italian Christmas Trees(Albero di Natale)The nativity scene (â??presepioâ??) is very common in Italy. It is set in the shape of a triangle which is the base of the â??ceppo,â?? a pyramid-like structure. This is decorated with colored papers, miniature colored pennants, and gilt pine cones. There are small candles placed to the tapering sides. On top is a star or a small doll. The shelves above the manger carry presents of candies and fruits.
Swedish Christmas Trees (Julgran)Most Swedes purchase their Julgran way ahead of time. It is not uncommon to grab the Julgran inside and embellish it few days before Christmas. These are decorated with sunbursts, snowflakes and stars made out of straw, and may include colorful straw centerpieces and wooden animals.
Canadian Christmas TreesBefore the 19th century, the Germans had migrated to Canada from Germany and the United States. They brought with them lots of the things we associate with Christmas today such as gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, Advent calendars and Christmas trees.
English Christmas TreesPrince Albert (Queen Victoriaâ??s German spouse) set up a Christmas tree in 1848 at Windsor Castle and almost instantaneously, it had become a tradition in England, Canada and the United States. Presently, the traditional tree used in British homes is the Norway spruce. It was formerly used by a native tribe in the United Kingdom (up until the last Ice Age) and was reintroduced before the 15th century.
Greenlandic Christmas TreesDue to the arctic climate, Christmas trees donâ??t grow in the area so these are shipped all the way from Denmark. Greenlanders decorate their trees with bright ornaments like candles. Japanese Christmas TreesThere is only approximately 1% of Christians among the Japanese, thatâ??s why Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan. As a matter of fact, the year-end celebration is more important than Christmas. Trees are beautified with small toys, wind chimes, small candles, and gold paper fans and lanterns.
Chinese Christmas TreesChristians in China only comprise 3% to 4% of the countryâ??s population. With this small percentage, most families put up artificial trees decorated with paper flowers, lanterns and paper chains. Christmas trees are called â??trees of light.â??
Philippine Christmas TreesFresh pine trees are highly priced for many Filipinos to afford. Thus, handmade trees are often utilized. Filipinos make star lanterns (â??parolâ??) out of bamboo sticks wrapped with brightly colored cellophane or rice paper.
Saudi Arabian Christmas TreesChristians in Saudi Arabia privately celebrate Christmas in their homes. Moreover, Christmas lights are not well-tolerated. Most families situate their trees somewhere out of sight and embellish as they would in their home countries.
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