Saturday, December 5, 2009

History of the Riga Christmas Tree

When searching for the historical beginning of the first Christmas tree, one must go very deep into the past. Just like Santa Claus one finds that the first Christmas tree was a combination of many different facts, legends and customs all starting in the Baltic countries and what is now Northern Germany. The first documented use of an evergreen tree in a Christmas celebration was in Riga, Latvia, in the year 1510 according to many sources,

Finland has Santa Claus, Russia has traditional handmade Christmas ornaments, Germany has Christmas markets. But arguably the most well known of Christmas traditions--decorating the Christmas tree--may have its origins in Latvia, and it's all but unknown. The location of the first recorded evergreen tree being used in a new year (Christmas) celebration was in Town Hall Square in Riga Latvia, just yards from the majestic Daugava River banks.

Riga has come a long way from those early beginnings. Surviving the harsh Soviet occupation for 50 years. Latvia is once again one of Northern Europe's most exciting places with great possibilities. Latvians look like and consider themselves Nordics.

By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in towns of the upper Rhineland, but it had not spread to rural towns. In the 19th century, the custom became popular among the nobility, in Britain the Christmas tree was introduced by George the third. Several cities in the United States with German connections lay claim to that country's first Christmas tree.

The United States' National Christmas Tree is lit each year on the South Lawn of the White House. Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve and taken down the day after twelfth night (Jan. 6th) to have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck. The term "Charlie Brown Christmas tree" is used in the United States and Canada to described any poor-looking or malformed little tree.

The first artifical Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century, though earlier examples exist. The trees were made using goose feathers that were dyed green, the size of the trees ranged from two inches to 98 inches, often the tree branches were tipped with artifical red berries which acted as candle holders. In 1930, the U.S. based Addis Brush Co. created the first artifical Christmas trees made from brush bristles.

Over the years since the first people celebrated the first Christmas tree in a far away time, we have since developed our own way of putting up our own tree and making it look beautiful. We even like to decorate outside, so to bring joy and beauty so others may see, in other words we are spreading the joy of the season. I am wishing all my friends a very Merry Christmas, may your spirit of the season touch your heart and your loved ones, God Bless everyone and remember it is a season to reach out and touch someone.


Merle said...

Dear Margaret __ I am glad you are feeling better. BVery interesting post
about Christmas trees. Who knew that Latvia would have the first artificial
tree. Well researched and well written
my friend. Take good care,
Love, Merle.


A most interesting post Margaret. I never thought about where the first Christmas tree originated from but thanks to you I am much wiser. hope you're well.


Babli said...

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to you for sharing this valuable information which I was not aware of. You have given a very useful and effective information from where the Christmas tree was originated and I gained knowledge from your brilliant post.

A New Beginning said...

Hi Margaret! Its great to see you back, hope you're feeling better:)
Thanks for the lovely post, my heartiest greetings for Christmas to you and your family :)

Katie and Da Katz said...

Thanks for the history lesson! I knew about King George introducing the Christmas tree to Great Britain, but not about Latvia.

Hows the weather there and How are you feeling? Do remember to take Vitamin C!

Merry Christ-mas and Happy Hanukkah...

Purrz from Katie and her Katz
Psalm 91 / Isaiah 43:1

Judy said...

This is interesting. I have not put up a tree for several years but I do put out my Santa collection, put a wreath on the door, and make a lot of goodies. Hope you are feeling much better by now.

Patty said...

Glad you're back. Now keep yourself well with the holidays coming up.

We have used an artificial tree now for some time. First year we lived here we had an aluminum tree with a color wheel in the front room and a live (dirt balled) tree in the family room. Live tree was planted, and it is still in the back yard. Huge old tree, we've lived here since 1962. At one time the kids would string popcorn and cranberries to hang on it, but it finally got to tall and big. Now it's been trimmed so we can walk under it and it's a tall old tree, drops a lot of pine cones, which if I don't have them picked up before mowing makes a terrible noise. I also wish we still had that old aluminum tree, it would be worth something now. This year and last, we've used a white Christmas tree with blue lights. I told our daughter living with us, when they move out, they can take the tree with them. I'll got back to the small fiber optic I set in the fire place opening. Our fireplace opening was not the kind on the floor, it's off a ledge that is a little higher than my knees, but then I'm also short. LOL Then we had it fixed, and a large arched opening put there, along with using a little pot belly stove in the opening, but that was messy and we found out it would make Abe's breathing worse, so I usually kept a large vase of flowers in the opening. But now the cat bothers them, so we usually have nothing sitting in there, just a throw rug which the cat sometimes jumps up and lays down on it. In the living room now, I put a larger fiber optic tree.

Do you still put one up? We don't decorate outside except for some red bows I stick on the front door and gates to the backyard. Take care.

Linda said...

Dear Margaret,
Your blog messages reach out and touch everyone! I so enjoy each and every message - always so informative and enjoyable to read. Thank you.

Hope you and your family have a most blessed Christmas season as well.
Kindest regards,
Linda in Illinois

Merle said...

Dear Margaret ~~Glad you liked the white
peacock - he is beautiful, and I am glad you got some smiles from the jokes.
I hope you are still getting over the flue and getting yor strength back.
Take care, my friend, Love, Merle.

Denise said...

A wonderful post Margaret. It's been a while since I've gotten here and I have had so much fun catching up on what I have been missing. Feel better soon.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

For many years most Americans never had a Christmas Tree and didn't even celebrate the holiday. Now, things have changed and it seems we are trying to revive things.

I know your post touched me in a strange way. I also enjoyed it.

Twyla and Lindsey said...

Your blog is very interesting. I have enjoyed visiting with you today. I love the vintage cards that you shared. Have a good week! Twyla

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

And a very Merry Merry Christmas to you Margaret. I have to tell you a funny story. The other day on our local news they featured a story about the big tree being lit at The Governor's Mansion. There was a countdown and when the lights came on only half of the tree lit up. At first there was just a little laughter and then the whole place just roared. It was pretty fun. The news announcer was quick on the draw and said "looks like the light budget in Virginia this year is down". I would be happy to give you the Chocolate Chips Cheeseball recipe. Everyone that tries it just loves it and it's so easy to make.

Shelby said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I had no idea!!

Midlife Mom said...

Great post! I didn't know so many of the facts that you posted about! Glad you are feeling better and will be ready to celebrate Christmas! Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy your comments!

Kay said...

I'd love to have seen a Christmas tree made of goose feathers. I'll bet that was pretty.

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