Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree . . . .

Whie House Christmas tree by Jay Tamboli

So when did the origin of the Christmas tree begin?  It is said that back in the 7th Century, a Devonshire monk named St. Boniface was sent to Germany to teach the word of God.  St. Boniface used the triangular shape of a Fir tree as a representation of the Holy Trinity of God, thus the Fir tree became God’s tree and eventually was hung upside down from the ceiling.  This gesture and the Fir tree thereby represented Christianity. 

Cowboy Christmas tree by elvissa

It wasn’t until the 16th century though that the decorated Christmas tree surfaced, when Martin Luther placed candles upon the tips of a tree and lit them to demonstrate to his children how the stars might twinkle on a darkened night.  Candles however were a fire hazard and were often placed in wooden hoops for safety, especially in the 1840’s in Germany where “fine beaded decorations and tinsel angels” found their way onto Christmas trees.  By the 1870’s glass ornaments from Britain became popular, and then the electric light bulb was invented.

New York City Bloomberg Tower Christmas tree by Rob Boudon

 In 1882, when the custom of using electric lights began, an associate of Thomas Edison, hand wired red, white and blue bulbs, winding them around an Evergreen tree located in the parlor of his home in New York City, but the popularity of lit Christmas trees didn’t happen until President Grover Cleveland, in 1895, commissioned for more than 100 multi-colored light bulbs to be placed on an enormous Evergreen tree for the White House. 

 “Soon members of high society were hosting Christmas tree lighting parties.”

Decorating for Christmas brings to mind the many wonderful Christmas displays in small and big town America.  To find out the Top Ten “Christmas towns in America” you might want to visit http://www.americasbestonline.net/index.php/pages/bestchristmastowns.html, although, here’s a brief summary of America’s best . . .

Christmas store front - Old Towne Alexandria - by cliff1066

Crowned the ultimate holiday town USA, by the A&E Network and coming in at #1 is Leavenworth, Washington, which ‘transforms itself into a virtual snow globe,” but #2, Durango, Colorado, might just be the favorite of big and little kids everywhere with their real live Polar Express where everyone climbs aboard in PJ’s to visit the North Pole some 30 miles away in the snowy Rocky Mountains.

“Romantic, Magical and Historic” is how #3 is described.  The quaint village of Woodstock, Vermont, comes to life during December with its 19th Century Christmas celebration, medieval banquet, and Christmas festivities of all types.  Not far from Woodstock is #4, Kennebunkport, Maine, where the annual Christmas tree lighting kicks off a host of holiday activities including the arrival of Santa Claus in a Lobster Boat.

Perhaps one of the most unusual heralding in of Christmas events takes place in #5, Mountain View, Arkansas, with caroling in the caves.  Located in Blanchard Spring Caverns is a huge amphitheatre, where the “sound is incredible!”  You can also enjoy home-made corn shuck angels and ornaments made from spools, both popular Christmas decorations in small town Mountain View.

Aurora Borialis seen in North Pole - Flickr photo by beverlypack

There really is a North Pole Virginia!  It’s located in Alaska, and that is where #6 displays Christmas year-round.  If Alaska’s too far and too cold, then you might want to visit #7, Alexandria, Virginia, where you can participate in the Scottish Walk Weekend, now in its 38th year.

 Just a short freezing 20 minute ride aboard a ferry will get you to Mackinac Island, Michigan, where BRRRR, you can only get around by horse and buggy, the same as they did 100 years ago, and even today, Santa will visit each and every child (part of the 500 population on Mackinac Island) to hear their Christmas wish.

Anyone for Christmas, New Orleans style?  Voted #9, New Orleans boasts of their twinkling lights, streetcars decorated with Christmas garlands, wrought iron balconies dressed in holly, meandering historical characters and all the great music and food New Orleans is known for.  But, not to be outdone, a little southwest of the border is #10, San Antonio, Texas, wrapping up the Top Ten . . . where River Walk sparkles that much more.  Imagine 40 decorated Christmas trees, eating tamales instead of turkey and participating in “La Gran Posada” a moving reenactment of the first Christmas Eve.

Flickr photo by guy schmidt

Whatever you do this Christmas, take time to visit your decorated town hall, city square, downtown area, and any place meant to bring a little holiday cheer.  In ending, may we wish you happy holidays!

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