“Crash!” My eyes immediately squinched together, tightly shut. I knew as soon as I openned them I would need to pause my Christmas Tree decorating to mourn and pay homage to what laid shattered below.
Sniff-sniffle it was the Sheep & Shephard Porcelain Ornament I had purchased the year I discovered our last name meant ‘Sheep’ in German.
German: metonymic occupational name for a shepherd, from Middle High German schaaf ‘sheep’. In some cases it may have been a nickname for someone thought to resemble a sheep, or a habitational name for someone living at a house distinguished by the sign of a sheep.
Most of the ornaments on our tree have a story. It’s a miss-match-mosh-bash of ornament stories and we have a barrel of monkey laughs, along with a few tender sniffles, every year we begin the task of hanging them.
If trees could talk I would love to hear what ours would say…I’m certain it would involve a giggle or two.
The Christmas Tree is probably the most suggestive holiday symbol, next to Santa and his reindeers. Its history is sprinkled with great moments, did you know?
- The first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510.
- Small candles used in lighting the tree date back to the middle of the 17th century.
- Edward Johnson, Thomas Edison’s assistant, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Since 1890 the tree lights are mass produced.
- The Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933. Since 2004 the tree got a new top – a 550-pound Swarovski Crystal star. Since 2007 the tree is lit with 30000 energy-efficient LEDs, powered by solar panels.
- President Franklin Pierce placed the first Christmas tree in the White House.
- Teddy Roosevelt banned the tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
- President Truman spent Christmas at his home in Missouri from 1948-1951, and lit the National Community Christmas Tree by remote control. In 1952 he lit the tree personally.
- 98% of all Christmas trees are grown on farms, preserving as much as possible the wild life.
- In 2012, 46 million Christmas tree seedlings were planted by U.S. growers – to ensure enough trees for harvest growers plant one to three seedlings for every tree harvested.
- Trees require shearing to attain the Christmas tree shape. At six to seven feet, trees are ready for harvest. A tree has to go through six to ten years before reaching maturity.
- To get to the retail outlet and then finally your home, the trees are cut weeks before, this means they need thorough watering – in the first week the tree in your home will consume a quart of water per day.
- The first artificial tree was made of green dyed goose feathers, in 19th century Germany.
The Catholic tradition of using an evergreen tree to celebrate the birth of Jesus spread throughout Germany, and German immigrants in the eighteenth century brought the custom to the New World. Although there are many stories, legends, and myths surrounding the founding of the Christmas tree, including the claim that the custom originated with Martin Luther, there is only one story rooted in a real person and a real event: Boniface, converter of the Germans.
“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.” St. Boniface
Where-ever you hang your twinkling lights this year, on a fancy plastic one or on a live Christmas tree, may you create a fir-fabulous story for your tree to share!
these hugs and ever-green blessings are sent twink-twinkle to you!