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Christmas Tree Folklore and History

  • Legend has it that as early as 1441 the first Christmas Tree was brought to Tallinn, Estonia by Brotherhood of the Blackheads, a guild of merchants who displayed it in the main square. A tree is still displayed there each year to this day.

  • 1510, the first written record of a decorated Christmas Tree comes from Riga, Latvia. Men of the local merchants’ guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then set fire to it.

  • Early Christmas Trees are decorated with paper, fruits, and sweets.

  • 1531, the first retail Christmas Tree lots are started in German cities.

  • 1539, the first Christmas in the United States is celebrated in Tallahassee, FL, although there is no record of a Christmas tree.

  • By the 1600's, Christmas Trees are decorated with ribbon, tin shapes, small books, and lace as well as food.

  • 18th century, the first recorded Christmas Tree decorated with lit candles.

  • 1777, the tradition of the Christmas Tree is brought to Colonial America by Hessian troops fighting for Britain in the Revolutionary War.

  • 1804, U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn (now Chicago) bring evergreen trees into their barracks at Christmas.

  • 1842, Charles Minnegrode introduces the custom of a decorated Christmas Tree in Williamsburg, Va.

  • 1851, Mark Carr opens a retail Christmas Tree lot in New York City, the first in the United States.

  • 1856, Franklin Pierce, our 14th President, brings the first Christmas Tree into the White House.

  • 1923, President Calvin Coolidge starts the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument.

  • 1966, members of the National Christmas Tree Association start the tradition of presenting a Real Christmas Tree each year to the First Lady for display in the Blue Room of the White House.


Source: National Christmas Tree Association and your local Christmas Tree professional. For more information contact: Rick Dungey, 636-449-5071

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