The first appearance
of a Christmas tree - Tannenbaum - was recorded in 1605 in Strasburg,
and the record said that "...people set up Christmas trees in
their rooms...". Another record of that time coming from Ammerschweier,
said that "... no burgher shall have for Christmas more than
one bush of more than eight shoes' length...". The decorations
hung on a tree of that time were "roses cut of many-colored paper,
apples, wafers, gilt, sugar". However the Christmas tree tradition
dates back to the middle of the 16th century when the first of "Tannenbaum" ballads appeared in printing. By the 19th century the tradition spread
across Germany and abroad. It was due to the royal Germans that the
custom of decorating a tree for Christmas crossed German borders,
and reached the United States.
People use different festive ornaments, nuts, candies, and candles
to decorate the tree. Once the real wax candles were used, and people
learnt how to make it safely: the candles were not left to burn
for a long time, and not without someone in the room. It is a widely
held belief that Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century Protestant
reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward
his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by
the brilliance of stars twinkling among the evergreens. To recapture
the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and
wired its branches with lighted candles. Nowadays more and more
electric candle lights replace their wax predecessors.
In some parts
of Germany it is a tradition on the 26th of December to visit friends
and praise their Christmas tree. This is called "Christbaumloben".
Mostly you ring at the door and when someone opens and lets you in,
you look at the tree and say "A nice tree!" (in German:
"Ein schoener Baum!")
Why do people do such a crazy thing? Because, normally those who
praise the tree will receive a little glass of alcoholic drink,
mostly some sort of brandy. After they get their drink, the visitors
normally sit down for a while, talking and eating some cookies,
perhaps praising the tree one more time ("A VERY nice tree!").
Such visits are not too long, because people don't visit only one
person: normally there are around ten different persons visited,
and of course ten different trees praised. As you can guess now,
these evenings end often in drunk people, but it is also very funny.