A potted history of the Christmas tree

A potted history of the Christmas tree

Here’s an amazing fact! It’s estimated that 85% of UK homes have a Christmas tree each year - that’s around 7 million trees sold every season.

Christmas tree being decorated

The origins of Christmas trees is deeply rooted in ancient pagan traditions and Christian celebrations. Branches of evergreen trees were brought into the home by Egyptians, Romans, and Vikings during the winter months as a symbol of life and hope during the cold, dark season. The evergreen's ability to retain its green leaves, even in the harshest winter conditions, represented resilience and the promise of spring.

Evergreen tree

The specific association of evergreen trees with Christmas can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when mystery plays depicting biblical themes were popular during the Christmas season. The ‘Paradise Play’ featured a tree adorned with apples to portray the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.  

In the 16th century, the tradition of decorating evergreen trees with apples, paper roses and other ornaments gained popularity in Germany - particularly in the region of Strasbourg. The first recorded use of a Christmas tree as we know it today was in the Alsace region of Germany in the early 17th century. As well as apples and paper roses, these trees were decorated with candles and fruits.  

Bring on Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, who helped popularize the Christmas tree outside of Germany. In 1841, he introduced the Christmas tree to the British royal family; an illustration of the family around a Christmas tree was featured in the Illustrated London News in 1848. The royal family then were much like the influencers of today, and Christmas trees became a fashionable trend in England and later in the United States. The first recorded Christmas tree in the US was put up by German settlers in Pennsylvania in the 1820s, but it was the royals who inspired growing numbers of Americans to buy trees for their homes over the festive seasons.

Queen Victoria

Decorations for Christmas trees have changed over the years; candles on branches were replaced by electric lights (much safer!) and ornaments have become increasingly more diverse and sophisticated. Tinsel, glass ornaments, and garlands became popular additions, adding sparkle and colour. These days you can get just about anything as an ornament for your tree.

Christmas tree decorations

In the spirit of sustainability, more and more people are using potted trees. These can be replanted or potted on after the festive season and reused for years to come. Potted trees generally have a lower environmental impact as they are not cut down. They’re a more eco-friendly option for those concerned about deforestation and the carbon footprint associated with transporting and disposing of cut trees.

However, cut trees do have benefits, especially over artificial trees. Artificial Christmas trees are often made in China and shipped across the world, resulting in an increase of carbon emissions and resources. And because of the material they are made of, most artificial trees are not recyclable and end up in landfill. Cut trees are harvested, but then replaced in a growing circle. And they can be recycled. Hospiscare in Devon, for example, raises funds by collecting cut trees from households in early January and lots of local authorities have drop off points (info here)

Christmas tree plantation

Sticking to the recycling theme - bang up to date are our new GIANT Christmas tree candles made from 100% recycled wax. These unscented trees, available in green and red, are huge at 275mm by 115mm, perfect for your Christmas centrepiece. And they have a burn time of 30 to 50 hours so will give you a lovely glow across the festivities. To really give your home decorations a boost, add in some of our smaller Christmas tree candles. Sold in sets of three these come in large and small sizes. We have heard that some customers find it hard to light them as they’re so pretty – whether you do or don’t is up to you.

Recycled Candle Giant Christmas Tree

Whether you have a potted tree or cut tree, or no tree at all, there’s always room for a recycled Christmas tree candle. Starting at just £15 for a set of three small trees to £50 for the whopper! Check them out here.

Back to blog

Readers favourites:

1 of 4