Nature has been a fundamental part of celebrations and traditions throughout history. People from all over the world have found spirits, charms and representations of the cycles of life in different plants and trees.
DINKtravelers knows that every traveler finds a great sense of adventure in nature. For this reason, some of the best activities you can plan for this winter, despite the cold, include skiing, mountain climbing, trekking and snowboarding. But, what would become of these activities without the pines and fir landscapes that accompany them?
History of the Christmas Tree
For many years, the winter solstice has been celebrated on December 21st, in honor of the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Long ago, since the sun was given divine characteristics, people believed that it weakened and fell ill during winter, so they placed evergreen in their houses to scare the evil spirits and illnesses away and to remind each other that when the sun recovered in summer, plants would turn green again.
There were similar beliefs in Northern Europe, where the druids, ancient Celtic priests, decorated their temples with evergreen symbolizing eternal life. And in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), Vikings said that this same plant represented the sun god, Balder.
Nowadays it’s no longer possible to meet druids or Vikings when you travel, but if you visit Northern Europe in December, you can enjoy the northern lights in Tromso, Norway; or on December 13th, see a parade of 10,000 young women dressed in tunics and wearing a crown with candles to symbolically illuminate the dark winter in Stockholm, Sweden; or even go to Denmark to buy special edition stamps designed by renown artists such as the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II.
Origin of the Christmas Tree in Germany
Another alternative is to travel to Germany, where the tradition of the Tannenbaum –Christmas tree– originated in the sixteenth century. It’s said that Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, added lit candles to the tree decorations with the intention of copying the effect of twinkling stars in the night sky. If you choose this destination, visit one of the many street markets and drink a glass of hot red wine with lemon, cinnamon, clove and sugar.
Although some German immigrants brought the tradition of the tree to America, at first it was not accepted.
Queen Victoria and The Christmas Tree
However, in the late nineteenth century, the popular Queen Victoria of Great Britain appeared in a drawing on the Illustrated London News posing with her husband, the German Prince Albert and their children around a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle. Evidently, as soon as the image became popular, the tree put down roots in America. Ever since then, huge trees adorn malls, public squares and homes.