Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.
When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.
Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.
I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.
To be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.
As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.
So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.
Since we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.
I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.
The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.
I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.
It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.
Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,