Why is the Christmas tree so significant?

The tree in antiquity -
At the winter solstice, which occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21, the ancient Egyptians, who worshiped a sun god called Ra.

The Romans -
The Romans marked their winter solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture.

The Greeks -
The coniferous pine was sacred to the Greeks, who worshipped Attis, the god of flora.

The German Christmas tree -
The modern Christmas tree likely originated from the Renaissance in early Germany, during the 16th century.

Martin Luther (1483–1546) -
German theologian and Protestant reformer Martin Luther is generally believed by scholars to be the first to add candles to a Christmas tree.

Tree of the knowledge of good and evil - For many, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the tree of paradise they took into their homes as the winter solstice approached. 

The Christmas tree is born -
By the end of the 16th century, the paradise tree had evolved into the Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree branches out -
As Germans migrated, they introduced the Christmas tree tradition to other countries, notably England.

Queen Victoria and the tree -
Britain's Queen Victoria was quite taken with the idea of putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it.

Pagans and Puritans -
Many New England Puritans in 17th-century America saw the Christmas tree as a Pagan symbol. 

Big business -
Suddenly festive evergreens were big business. Pictured is a Christmas tree market at Barclay Street Station in New York City in 1895.

Santa and the tree -
By the late 19th century, no self-respecting Santa was seen without a decorative Christmas tree.

Bright ideas -
Lighting a Christmas tree became a bright idea, with the invention of glass candle lamps.

Public Christmas trees -
Public Christmas trees began appearing in countries in the 1920s.

Trafalgar Square Christmas tree -
The United Kingdom's most iconic Christmas tree first made its appearance in London in 1947.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree -
The large Christmas tree placed annually in Rockefeller Center in New York City has been a tradition since 1931.

Vatican City Christmas tree -
The tradition of placing a Christmas tree as well as the life-size nativity scene in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City only started in 1982.

Bethlehem Christmas tree -
Every year a Christmas tree is symbolically placed in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. 

Lapland Christmas trees -
Decorated Christmas trees illuminate Santa Claus Village at Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland. 

World's largest living Christmas tree -
This colorized postcard shows what was then the world's largest living Christmas tree, at Wilmington in North Carolina.

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