After the practice had spread throughout Europe it was not until the Revolutionary War that German settlers hauled trees from surrounding woods and decorated them to enjoy the Holidays. Nowadays, the tree is more a symbol of goodwill, hope, and family togetherness and not exclusive to any one religion.
Of course, in modern times the trees are decorated with much more than food, besides the occasional American touch of Popcorn and Candy Cane. Imagination and the personal taste of all cultures in our beloved melting pot are incorporated into the decor, and of course the candles were replaced with electric lights. I still get a grin on my face when I think of my first Christmas in Los Angeles in the early 80’s. Not knowing any better and wanting to experience a little bit of ‘home’, I adorned the tree with real candles, which my girlfriend quickly extinguished and educated me on the danger of home fires, especially in California!
This year over 33 million American families will celebrate the holidays with a real Christmas tree and countless more with an artificial tree.
Today, countries like Germany and Austria, still being touched by long ago traditions, host a large number of ‘Christkindl Markt’s’ with handcrafted glass ornaments, beautiful arts and crafts, German foods (Lebkuchen, strudel, chestnuts, and special cookies) and Gluehwein (hot red wine with spices) as well as colorful toy Nutcrackers and Advent calendars. Blankets of glistening snow and below freezing temperatures won’t keep you away. It enhances the feeling of an era of a gentler, more tender society. The true spirit of Christmas still lingers in the cold winter air. To all of you, no matter what faith - Happy Holidays!