A Holiday Tradition

There is a charming story about the first Christmas tree in Williamsburg, Virginia, a town noted for its traditional decorations for the holidays.

a candle on a christmas tree

Photo: Christoph W (flickr)

He also fixed candles onto the branches with wire.

A decorated evergreen tree is a German tradition that evolved from the pagan festivals of ancient Rome. German immigrants brought the custom to America.

The First Christmas Tree

There is a charming story about the first Christmas tree in Williamsburg, Virginia, a town noted for its traditional decorations for the holidays. In 1842 Judge Nathanial Tucker invited a young German – born professor to join the Tucker family’s Christmas celebration.

The professor arrived with a small evergreen tree and showed the children how to make colored paper chains so that they could decorate it. He also fixed candles onto the branches with wire.

The family was delighted with this small tree and invited their neighbors and relatives to come to see it. Word spread for miles around. So in subsequent years, the Tuckers and their friends continued the tradition.

By the turn of the century Christmas trees had become popular additions to the other plant materials used for decorations over the holidays. The scent of evergreens mingled with the perfume of dried lavender, rose petals, rosemary and bay that decorated the living rooms of the colonists during winter celebrations.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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