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Why do Brits put up a Christmas tree in their home?

Fri 02 Dec 2016

They come in two forms, one real living tree and one plastic. Easy to remember… the more traditional British way is to have a real tree. The artificial tree can be any shape or size and have only been widely used in the past 30 years in Britain because they are cheaper and re-usable.

But why do Brits put up Christmas trees you ask? Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith and putting up a tree represents new life in the deep dark depths of winter. The idea of using trees as symbolic decorations is believed to date from traditions of ancient civilisations, such as Egyptian and Roman people, which also used a tree at this time of year. But it really became trendy in the 18th century when Germans decorated a tree with candles and placed them in churches as well as homes across the country.

When do Brits put up the Christmas tree? Traditionally the tree will go up when Advent starts which is the first Sunday of December. To mark the occasion the first of four candles on an Advent wreath is lit. A new candle it lit each Sunday until Christmas Day and sometimes a final centre candle is lit for the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. 

But when you put the Christmas tree up really depends on the individual nowadays as it really isn’t strict.

What type of tree do Brits use? Usually a Norwegian spruce, it is green, bushy, smells incredible and can be between four feet (one metre) and ten feet (three metres) tall.

Now we get to the fun part – decorations!

The tree will usually have all or some of these decorations:

Tinsel: A sparkly decoration that wraps around the tree like a scarf.

Baubles: Plastic or more traditionally glass balls hung on the branches of the tree decorated in all shades and with many different patterns.

Lights: These usually come on a long string and are wrapped around the tree.

Star or angel: Again this depends on the individual tree but at the top of the branches you fill find either a star or an angel

Depending on how big the person’s house is the Christmas tree will most commonly be placed in the corner of the living area and beautifully wrapped gifts are kept underneath it until the 25th of December.

There is modern etiquette surrounding British Christmas trees. Do not touch the tree under any circumstances, just stand and admire and always complement someone on their tree!

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