Sunday, December 25, 2016

The History of the Christmas Tree

Christmas trees as we know them today first arrived in Vienna during the Biedermeier period from northern (Protestant) Germany: In 1814 reports compiled by the state police contain the first mention of a Christmas tree festivity held in the salon of the Arnsteins, a Jewish bankersfamily. Those attending were given lavish gifts, a custom that was not usual on Christmas Eve in Vienna at the time. However, it was via court circles that the Christmas tree spread rapidly to the living rooms of the middles classes. The wife of Archduke Karl, Henriette of Nassau-Weilburg brought the custom from her German (Protestant) home. Christmas 1816 saw the first Christmas tree, festively decked with candles in the Habsburg family. Emperor Franz I attended this celebration and was so taken with the magical aura of the Christmas tree that the ordered a tree to be put up in the Imperial Palace at Christmas from then on. Subsequently it became the norm in Catholic families to celebrate Christmas around the tree. Contemporary accounts record that while it was still almost impossible to procure a Christmas tree in 1821, by 1829 there were already street vendors.