WTF Fun Fact 12596 – Martin Luther’s Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are a pagan tradition that predates Christianity (and, therefore, Christmas). That might lead someone knowledgeable about theology or Christian history to believe that the Protestant reformer Martin Luther wasn’t a fan since he wasn’t exactly known for going all-out on the holidays.

In the 16th century, so the story goes, Martin Luther was taking a Christmastime walk and was inspired by the twinkling stars above him. That’s when he got the idea to gussy up a Christmas tree. He used candles, of course, since they didn’t have those infuriating strings of lights yet.

It became a wider German tradition after that (since Martin Luther was also known for spreading his ideas around). And when German emigrated all over Europe and North America, they brought that tradition with them.

Decorated trees became an even more visible tradition when Queen Charlotte introduced the practice to her new husband, King George III, and his English court in the mid-18th century. After that, Queen Victoria’s Christmas tree was illustrated in an 1848 edition of Illustrated London News. That immediately made it more fashionable.

The tradition of lighting up Christmas trees probably came to the US around the 18th century as well when Hessian troops came to back up the British during the Revolutionary War. When German immigrants moved over in later decades under more polite circumstances, they reinvigorated the trend that others then found fascinating and decided to copy.

So just remember to blame Martin Luther when you’re untangling those lights next Christmas. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Why do we have Christmas trees? The surprising history behind this holiday tradition” — National Geographic

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