Xmas Evolution: The making of the modern Xmas tree

I’m sure that many of us around the UK will be putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend and it got me thinking about the history of our festive traditions. The modern Christmas tree, and the way we decorate it, is the result of over 500 years of evolution. Check-out the timeline below to find out how the modern Christmas tree as we know it, from the real trees of medieval Europe to the artificial Xmas trees of today, came into being…

1400s. The ‘Paradise Tree,’ a fir tree hung with apples, appears in medieval mystery plays held on December 24th. These are to become the forerunners of modern Christmas trees in Europe.

1510. The first decorated ‘Christmas tree’ appears in Riga, Latvia.

1570. German guild members decorate trees with edible Christmas decorations of “apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers” for their children.

1700s. Wax candles are first used on Christmas trees in Germany.


1834. Prince Albert displays a Christmas tree in Windsor castle, creating a Victorian trend for indoor Christmas trees in wealthy homes.

1841. The custom of having indoor Christmas trees becomes widespread in Britain.

1882. Edward H. Johnson creates the first electrically illuminated Christmas tree and popularises the use of electric Christmas lights.

1902. Christmas decorations such as glass balls and small lanterns start to come into use.

1930. The first artificial realistic Christmas trees are produced in the USA. They are made by the Addis brush company, a manufacturer of toilet brushes, and contain realistic bristle brushes.

1947. Norway gifts a Christmas tree to the United Kingdom for its support during WWII. The tree is displayed in Trafalgar square and is now an annual tradition. The tree is decorated with 500 white Christmas Lights.

20th century – Artificial Christmas trees are now widely used due to their low cost and convenience. Around Two thirds of all Christmas trees in the UK are artificial.

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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