12. Christmas Trees were an extension of this tradition of life amidst the death of winter.
One theory about the origin of the Christmas tree is that it has its roots in props from medieval mystery plays. The ‘paradise tree,’ constructed from a fir tree hung with apples, acted as a mock-up of the tree of knowledge in a favorite theatre production of the medieval period featuring Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. By the sixteenth or seventeenth century, similar trees began to appear in the doorways of German houses, decorated with apples or wafers- precursors of the more familiar baubles and cookies or chocolates.
As we have seen, evergreen garlands were traditionally fixed around doorways, to protect the entrances to buildings from evil spirits. In northern Europe, readily available fir boughs were a standard part of this arrangement. The position of early modern Christmas trees in the doorway of houses suggests they were a development of this earlier tradition of midwinter greenery. However, there is a suggestion that the Christmas tree in one form or another may be older still. The ancient Celtic tribes of Europe, as well as the Vikings and Saxons all venerated trees as symbols of life, tying offerings to their boughs.