You know that Christmas Tree. The one in Christmas movies with New York as a location. We have seen this icon and many wish to visit it during the holidays. It is even on my bucket list to check out.
It is the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. A world-wide symbol of the holidays in New York City.
The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931 (pictured below). It was a small tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. The unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931). Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights.
The official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened).
History of Christmas Trees
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter.
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce.
Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived.
By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became a tradition.