Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Tree: Star Vs Angel?

Have you got around to putting up your Christmas decorations yet? If so, is your tree of natural pine, or do you go in for an artificial one? I must admit that for numerous reasons, all too tenuous to go into great depth here, we always have one of the latter persuasion. But more to the point (especially for this posting) is your tree is topped with a star or by an angel?

The concept of a Christmas tree was introduced in Germany as far back as the 16th century (and possibly going even further back) when Christians brought a tree back to their homes and adorned it with decorations etc. Although the idea of a tree at Christmas had been brought to the British shores previously, its main popularity in the UK has been attributed to the husband of Queen Victoria, namely Prince Albert.

In 1848, Victoria, Albert and their family were pictured on the cover of the Illustrated London News, all standing around their tree at Windsor Castle and soon enough, the tradition was being followed by many of the wealthier middle-class English families who took great pleasure in covering them with the likes of  apples, nuts and dates etc. 

In fact the young Victoria had previously been used to a tree being placed in every room of the house during her childhood, prompting her to write in her journal as a 13 year old in 1832:

"After dinner... we then went into the drawing-room near the dining-room... There were two large round tables on which were placed two trees hung with lights and sugar ornaments. All the presents being placed round the trees..."


In these earlier days, Victorians preferred the use of an angel at the top of their trees which signified the angel who proclaimed the birth of Jesus to the world. Moving on to the 1870s with the growth of the British Empire, a nationalistic fervour took over and many people took pleasure in topping their trees with the Union Jack (Flag).

Many people however (and I have to admit to being among them) like to top their tree with a star, signifying the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

So, if you have one, how do you top your tree? 

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