In many families it is the highlight of the year when everyone gathers around the elaborately decorated tree and the room is bathed in festive lighting; children’s eyes light up as they admire their gifts and you can simply forget about your everyday worries. As the days get shorter and colder and you can feel winter time approaching, many people console themselves about the last few warm autumn days coming to an end by thinking about the upcoming Christmas.
But why is Christmas so important for most people, especially in the western world? Is it tradition, religion or are there other reasons?
Of course to start with Christmas is a Christian festival. The birth of Christ is celebrated by 2 billion Christians all over the world.
The Christmas tree
For example, where does the custom of festively decorating a fir tree come from and how did the Christmas tree become the main symbol of Christmas?
This custom also has its roots in non-Christian cultures. For the Germanic people, evergreen fir trees were an important fertility symbol and gave hope that spring will return after winter. In ancient Rome, fir tree branches were brought home to keep away harm and evil spirits.
The tradition of decorations was only established later on in the 17th century. First of all the tree was decorated with anything to hand, Christmas decorations were then finally systematically made and sold in the 19th century with the advent of industrialization.