With it rumored that the first Christmas was celebrated nearly 2,000 years ago in 336 A.D., it’s no surprise that Christmas traditions have changed quite a bit throughout the years. But if there’s one thing that’s stood the test of time, it’s the Christmas tree. Sure, the way we decorate them has changed a bit and there were those few years when everyone had a metallic tree (which I think we’re all still trying to forget about), but Christmas trees have, for the most part, always remained the same — until now.
The possible origins of upside down Christmas trees
How the trend started is highly debated. One thought is that the tradition began during the Middle Ages. At the time, Europeans believed that upside down trees more closely resembled the holy trinity and a cross. It was only when trees became too large to hang that they were placed on the ground.
Another popular theory is that St. Boniface cut down an oak tree in 672 A.D. to stop a group of pagans from worshipping it. In the tree’s place, a fern eventually grew. According to some sources, St. Boniface also thought the tree resembled the holy trinity and decided to hang it upside down.
Another, more reliable theory is that upside down Christmas trees simply sprung up out of necessity. Many years ago, lower-income families living in small apartments and houses didn’t have the floor space for a tree (though, Christmas trees at the time were much smaller than they are now). Hanging a tree (or the tip of a tree) from the ceiling left more living space available. As a bonus, hanging trees also kept little ones and pets from grabbing at decorations.
Upside down Christmas trees in the 21st century
Today, hanging Christmas trees are more of a specialty item than a convenience — something we may have big box stores to thank for. With stores looking to maximize their floor space, hanging trees from the ceiling left more room for displays.
Another thought is that they’re just plain amazing! Like an elaborate chandelier, upside down Christmas trees make a statement in any room. Perhaps that’s why Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director for Chanel, recently traded in fabric for pine needles when he designed a hanging Christmas tree for The Claridge Hotel in London.
Whether or not you’re for or against a hanging tree, we can all agree that what’s most important is that our trees look healthy and beautiful throughout the month. Once you’ve got your tree picked out, follow a few of our Christmas tree care tips to ensure a long life for your fir.