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The Christmas tree: history, symbols and tradition

tree

Where did the decoration of the Christmas tree came from?

Maybe one of the most awaited part of the winter holidays is the decoration of the Christmas tree. Every year we tend to buy new decorations, gather around the Christmas tree, put on some carols, and start to hang all kinds of figurines on its branches. Beside making our home look beautiful and cozy for the holidays, making the perfect spot under which we can place some gifts, what's the real meaning of this "ritual"?

History and symbolism

The truth is that nobody knows exactly when the fir tree was first used as Christmas tree. Some say that it probably began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe. Pagans used to decorate their houses with branches during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used the fir trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia which honored the Saturn deity and it was held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities until December 23. In the present, Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God and the birth of Jesus Christ.

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The first documented Christmas tree is argued between the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia. Both claim that they had the first trees, Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. However, it is also said that the first person who brought a Christmas tree into the house was the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther.

In the beginning, Christmas trees were decorated with edible things like, apples, gingerbread, nuts and pretzels. Many people used gold foil and paper flowers ass well. Later on, when small ornaments began to be produced, on the top of the tree it was put a figure of the Baby Jesus. Over time it changed to an angel that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star symbolizing the star that the Wise Men saw. In the Victorian era, the tree would have been decorated with candles which also represent the stars.

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In 1985, Ralph Morris, an American telephonist, invented the first electric Christmas lights, similar to the ones we use today because of the danger of fire. For example, in 1885 a hospital in Chicago burned down because of candles on a Christmas tree.

In the end, it doesn't really matter what's the meaning of your Christmas tree. Hope, rebirth, healing, loyalty, reverence, longevity, protection, permanence, or faithfulness, if it brings you happiness, it's all that matters.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Miami residents can bring their Christmas trees to one of the County’s Trash and Recycling Centers or the West Miami-Dade Home Chemical Collection Center. The trees will be converted into mulch, available to residents on a first-come, first-served basis beginning in early February 2016.

Here's where you can bring them.

Trash and Recycling Centers (open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.):

  • Eureka Drive – 9401 SW 184 St.
  • Golden Glades – 140 NW 160 St.
  • Moody Drive – 12970 SW 268 St.
  • North Dade – 21500 NW 47 Ave.
  • Norwood – 19901 NW 7 Ave.
  • Palm Springs North – 7870 NW 178 St.
  • Richmond Heights – 14050 Boggs Dr.
  • Snapper Creek – 2200 SW 117 Ave.
  • South Miami Heights – 20800 SW 117 Ct.
  • Sunset Kendall – 8000 SW 107 Ave.
  • West Little River – 1830 NW 79 St.
  • West Perrine – 16651 SW 107 Ave.

Home Chemical Collection Center (open seven days a week for tree drop off only, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through January 8, 2016, normal hours and days thereafter):

  • West Miami-Dade – 8801 NW 58 St.

Christmas Tree Mulch Availability

  • Eureka Drive – 9401 SW 184 St.
  • Moody Drive – 12970 SW 268 St.
  • North Dade – 21500 NW 47 Ave.
  • Sunset Kendall – 8000 SW 107 Ave.
  • West Little River – 1830 NW 79 St.
  • West Perrine – 16651 SW 107 Ave.

For more details, click here.

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