“Rockin’ around the Christmas tree at the Christmas Party hop.
Mistletoe hung where you can see, every couple tries to stop.
Rockin’ around the Christmas tree, let the Christmas spirit ring.
Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie, and we’ll do some caroling.”
-“Rocking’ Around the Christmas Tree,” by Johnny Marks
Why do we cut down trees and bring them inside at Christmas time?
A long time ago in a land far away…the custom existed in ancient times when many cultures placed evergreen branches over the entrances and windows of their homes believing the greenery would ward off evil spirits.
Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with palm branches at the winter solstice in support of their sun god, Ra, whose powers waned at that time of year. The green foliage symbolized a return of vigor. In early Rome the feast of Saturnalia honored their god of agriculture. Romans decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs for the occasion.
Meanwhile the Celtic Druid priests symbolized everlasting life with evergreen ornamentation, and Nordic Vikings paid homage to their sun god, Balder, similarly.
So, I guess it’s not surprising that whole evergreen trees came into decorative use during this time of year for the Christian Christmas holidays in Northern Germany and Livonia during the European cultural rebirth and reawakening of the Renaissance. Decorated trees were found in guild halls there as early as the mid-15th century. Trees began to appear in the homes of wealthy German Protestants in the 17th century, and their use became widespread in the 18th century.
The American Christmas tree tradition seems to have roots in cities with large German populations. Windsor Locks, Connecticut, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Easton, PA, all contend to have had the first American Christmas tree.
Wherever the Christmas tree custom started, American Christians continue the use today, using all kinds of ornamentation. My parents married just before my Dad reported for active duty in World War II. I have many photos of some of their early trees bearing homemade paper ornaments and strings of popcorn and cranberries. By the time I came along loads of silver, aluminum tinsel strips hung from the branches of our live trees, along with a number of multicolored glass balls. Some of them bore Christmas icons in their middles. Two have survived and hang on my tree each year.
One of my proudest childhood moments came the year I was put in charge of hanging the tinsel on the trees. I happily completed my task, puffed up with pride, not realizing it had fallen to me by default. The older kids had moved on to other interests. The 1960’s brought a silver aluminum tree to our house. It was spot lit with an indoor flood light, and green fabric balls hung from its branches. That marked the end of the tinsel era in our family, and my parents move to artificial trees. Whether real or artificial, I love Christmas trees.
So, this year I made Christmas Tree Quesadillas, using spinach wraps, loads of cheese, and sun dried tomato ornaments for the 11th Day of Christmas, which also happens to be my late mother’s birthday. I think she would love them. They are delicious! As always, they are uber easy to make. And anything “Easy” is perfect for me.
Feel free to use this picture as a reference to make your own Christmas Tree Quesadillas. Or take a moment to peruse our 2012 12 Days of Christmas photo series for other ideas, as we roll out a new holiday food picture each day. And check out our smart cookbooks for people on the go. Priced below $8.00 they make wonderful virtual stocking stuffers and gifts for people who love delicious food that’s quick and easy to make. Remember, ebooks can be sent to anyone with an email address!
Stop in tomorrow to see what we’re doing on the 12th Day of Christmas.