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A Brief History of the Artificial Christmas Tree

Artificial christmas trees on display for sale in a store.

Every year in December households around the world undergo a magical transformation, filling their living spaces with twinkling lights, colorful ornaments, and, of course, the star of the show, the Christmas tree.

While the tradition of decorating trees during the festive season is ancient and deeply rooted in various cultures, the evolution of the artificial Christmas tree is a relatively modern phenomenon that has captivated the imagination of millions. We’ve just taken our tree down from the shoppe window to put up a new display and it got me thinking about the fascinating history behind this beloved symbol of holiday cheer.

Our christmas tree display in the window of The Olde Christmas Shoppe with a beautiful sunset visable through the window silhouetting the tree and making the glass abub;les sparkle.
Our christmas tree display in the window of The Olde Christmas Shoppe.

The origins of the Christmas tree can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, who adorned their homes with green palm leaves during the winter solstice as a symbol of life’s triumph over death. Similarly, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia by decorating their homes with evergreen boughs, a practice later adopted by Christians as a representation of everlasting life through Christ.

Ancient egyptian papyrus showing a figure harvesting dates from a palm tree with hieroglyphic script in the background.
Ancient egyptian papyrus showing a figure harvesting dates from a palm tree with hieroglyphic script in the background.
Ancient roman fresco depicting two figures in traditional attire dancing or celebrating, with the phrase "io saturnalia!" indicating a reference to the festival of saturnalia.
Ancient roman fresco depicting two figures in traditional attire dancing or celebrating, with the phrase “io saturnalia!” indicating a reference to the festival of saturnalia.

However, the tradition truly took root in Germany during the 16th century, where devout Christians decorated trees with candles to symbolize the light of Christ. This custom gained popularity throughout Europe and eventually crossed the Atlantic to North America with European immigrants, where it merged with indigenous traditions to become an integral part of Christmas celebrations.

A christmas tree farm with rows of young evergreen trees.
A christmas tree farm with rows of young evergreen trees.

For centuries, natural evergreen trees were the only option for festive decorations, but everything changed in the 19th century with the advent of industrialization. As urbanization soared and the demand for Christmas trees grew, entrepreneurs sought ways to meet this demand more efficiently. Enter the artificial Christmas tree. 🎄

Old German Goose Feather Tree with Spun Cotton Candles and many wonderful old Christmas Ornaments
Old German Goose Feather Tree with Spun Cotton Candles and many wonderful old Christmas Ornaments

The earliest artificial trees were constructed from dyed goose feathers, a practice that originated in Germany in the 19th century. These feather trees, as they were called, were crafted to resemble their natural counterparts and gained popularity among affluent families who sought a reusable and fire-safe alternative to real trees.

However, it was not until the 20th century that artificial trees truly began to flourish, thanks to advances in manufacturing technology and materials. In the 1930s, the Addis Brush Company, a toilet brush manufacturer based in the United States, revolutionized the industry by producing artificial trees made from bristles salvaged from their brush-making process. These early artificial trees were not as lush or realistic as their modern counterparts, but they marked a significant milestone in the evolution of the artificial Christmas tree.

1930's Artificial Christmas tree made with heavy wires and plastic bristles.
1930’s Artificial Christmas tree made with heavy wires and plastic bristles.

Throughout the mid-20th century, artificial trees continued to evolve, with manufacturers experimenting with different materials such as aluminum, plastic, and PVC to create more lifelike and durable designs. By the 1960s, aluminum trees adorned with colorful rotating lights became all the rage, epitomizing the Space Age aesthetic of the era.

A 1960's couple standing beside an elaborate silver christmas tree in a vintage living room setting.
A 1960’s couple standing beside an elaborate silver christmas tree in a vintage living room setting.

In the ensuing decades, artificial trees became increasingly sophisticated, featuring realistic foliage, pre-lit designs, and innovative assembly mechanisms that made them more convenient and user-friendly than ever before. Today, artificial Christmas trees come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and styles, ranging from traditional evergreen replicas to whimsical designs inspired by nature and fantasy.

Three-dimensional cardboard christmas trees with string lights on a white, fluffy surface.
Three-dimensional cardboard christmas trees with string lights on a white, fluffy surface.

The rise of the artificial Christmas tree has sparked debates among purists who argue for the authenticity and charm of real trees, but its popularity continues to soar for several compelling reasons. Unlike natural trees, artificial trees are reusable, eco-friendly, and pose minimal fire hazards, making them a practical choice for environmentally-conscious consumers and those with safety concerns.

Artificial trees also offer unparalleled convenience, allowing busy families to enjoy the magic of the holiday season without the hassle of watering, shedding needles, or disposing of a bulky tree once the festivities are over. With proper care and storage, an artificial tree can last for many years, becoming a cherished heirloom that is passed down from generation to generation.

Family of three generations decorating the christmas tree together.
Family of three generations decorating the christmas tree together.

The artificial Christmas tree is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, showcasing how a humble household decoration has evolved into an iconic symbol of holiday joy and togetherness. Whether adorned with twinkling lights and beautiful baubles or left unadorned as a simple yet elegant centerpiece, the Christmas tree continues to enchant and inspire people of all ages, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation in the timeless spirit of Christmas.

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The Beautiful Christmas Birds

Merry Christmas, everyone!

From the tasty turkey dinner to red-breasted robins, turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree, there are so many different birds which we associate with the festive season. Have you ever wondered just why we look forward all year to a lovely roasted turkey, or why people hang certain birds on their Christmas trees? Well now you don’t have to wonder – we have done a little research on the symbolism and history behind these birds, to find out once and for all what makes our favourite festive birds so stocking-filling festive in the first place!

It’s Turkey Day!

Let’s start off our flight into the world of Christmas birds with the traditional turkey – the centrepiece of many a Christmas Day meal across the nation, but why? The tradition of having a turkey for Christmas can actually be traced back to the Tudor period in Britain, with the notorious King Henry VIII who was the first monarch to request turkey as part of the royal festive feast. From this point, a trend began to slowly build across the kingdom until it really skyrocketed in the 19th century as the non-native bird became more affordable for the average Brit. Thank goodness!

Two Turtles Doves…

Photo by Mercy on Unsplash

Next up on our winged journey through the festive season are two of many birds that are featured in the classic 12 Days of Christmas song: turtle doves, and the lovely wee partridge in a pear tree! When many people hear turtle doves, they think about the heart-warming Christmas sequel ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ where a young Macaulay Culkin buys a pair of turtle dove decorations to split with his new friend as a symbol of lasting friendship and love. This idea of love and togetherness also links to the biblical symbolism of the turtle dove as an emblem of the peace and purity of the Holy Spirit which are all very important to the story of Christmas itself.

Follow this link to check out our official Doves of Friendship and say thanks for being a friend!

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

The partridge in a pear tree also has its roots in religious scripture, linking the Christmas holiday to another very important event in the Christian calendar – the Easter story, and the sacrifice of Christ. In the classic Christmas song, the partridge in the tree seems to represent Jesus on the cross, as a mama partridge will feign injury and sacrifice herself to keep her nesting children safe. So now we know what one of the most iconic Christmas songs is really all about: love, peace, sacrifice and family, all beautiful things to keep in mind as we celebrate the Christmas season with our loved ones near and far!


‘Turtle Doves in Culture‘, OperationTurtleDove

The Scotsman, ‘Turkey at Christmas: why we eat turkey for Christmas dinner‘. 24 December 2020

For more fun festive facts and decorating ideas, why not check out some of our other Christmas blogs below? Merry Christmas!

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What Is A Blue Christmas?

Merry Christmas all, and welcome to another of blog where we will dive into the rich and diverse world of Christmas facts and traditions!

Our Elvis Presley Tree Decoration.

What comes to mind when you think of a blue Christmas? Maybe you think of the 1978 cult classic Japanese sci-fi movie of the same name, or more likely the solemn song of unrequited love made popular in 1957 by country rock crooner Elvis Presley – let’s be honest, you’re singing “I’ll have a bluuuue, blue, blue, blue Christmas” right now! The phrase “blue Christmas” is definitely most associated with festive pop culture now, courtesy of The King, but we have learned there is another special meaning rooted in Western Christian festive tradition that often goes unknown.

Blue Christmas, for many Christian people, is marked during Advent on or around December 21st – an important date in many cultures as it marks the Winter Solstice or Longest Night, when the daylight hours are at their shortest. In Western Christian tradition, this night is often marked with a special ‘Blue Christmas’ church service which combines worship and remembrance as it acknowledges the struggle and grief that many people face over the festive period.

Candles are lit for loved ones at Blue Christmas

While the tradition appears to be fairly recent in origin, Blue Christmas has increased steadily in popularity and available resources as the event fills an important need for many who seek comfort and support during the difficult winter months when many others are rejoicing the festive season. For this reason, the ‘Blue Christmas’ services held in a number of Christian denominations are focused on finding hope and looking forward to brighter days ahead, which is a beautiful and important message to spread on the darkest day of winter as the days then gradually get longer and brighter as we move towards spring. This night is also an opportunity for those dealing with grief and loss in the lead up to Christmas to light a candle in memory of their loved ones and mourn with the support of their religious community, and for the community to acknowledge any losses from their congregation that year by leaving a seat empty in their honour.

The solemn yet beautiful tradition of Blue Christmas is an important reminder to us all, no matter what culture or religion: Christmas isn’t always a happy time for everyone, and we should all take time during the festive season to check up on and uplift those around us!


‘Blue Christmas (holiday)’, Wikipedia

‘Blue Christmas (1978), IMDb

‘Blue Christmas (song)’, YouTube

For more Christmas facts and holiday inspiration, check out some of our other blogs on our website and be sure to peek at our fabulous products too!

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Why Are Robins Linked With Christmas?

Merry Christmas everyone, from The Olde Christmas Shoppe! There are many iconic images that come to mind when we think of Christmas time – candy canes, Christmas trees and presents, to name a few! But one of the most loved symbols of the festive season can be found right on our doorstep: robins! While these birds are around all year long, they are much more noticeable in the winter time as they don’t migrate to warmer climates, choosing instead to move between their breeding grounds and foraging grounds at home – this is one reason among many why the robin has become synonymous with Christmas time, especially here in the UK.

Robins on a Christmas tree
Photo by laura adai on Unsplash

Seasonal migration isn’t the only reason that we associate these lovely creatures with the festive season in the UK – to find out why, we need to go all the way back to Victorian Britain in the 19th century. The centuries-old tradition of sending out Christmas cards, while it seems pretty old-school for many in today’s world of technology, fell into fashion under the rule of Queen Victoria who began the royal tradition of sending an official Christmas card – it then became more popular amongst the people as a way to spread cheer during the festive season. The nation’s lingering association of robins with Christmas comes from this tradition as the postmen who would deliver the season’s greetings wore red-breasted uniforms which gained them the nickname ‘robins’. This fun nickname then appears to have led to the featuring of robins on Christmas cards themselves, and now they are a well-established emblem of all things festive!

As well as this old British tradition, the robin also features in some interpretations of the traditional Nativity story, the Christian roots of everybody’s favourite holiday. After the birth of Jesus, some believe that Mary lit a fire to keep her child safe and warm, and as the flame began to dwindle a kindly brown bird began to fan the flame with its tiny wings before an ember landed on and burned its feathered chest – this has become a common tale explaining the bold orange-red breast of the robin, and links the beautiful bird to the very beginning of the Christmas story!

To find out more about these amazing birds, check out this super-informative RSPB page as well as our other blogs, including a look at the symbolism of robins and loads of other fun Christmas tips and inspiration!