Decorating a Christmas tree usually involves spools Christmas lights, store-bought, and homemade ornaments, with a star or angel resting at the top. All this happens before the delivery person shows up with Christmas Gifts. Yet, these traditions are a result of modern conveniences. When Christmas Trees first rose to prominence in the United States and were often decorated with fruits and other items. A tradition of stringing popcorn and cranberries into a garland wrapped around the tree was born. But you may be wondering why Christmas tree garlands are often made with fruit and popcorn?
Fruit on Trees
So why was fruit put on the tree? Here’s a little Christmas tree history.
Before Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, many pagan rituals involved having a live evergreen tree in the home. The reasons varied and included wishes of prosperity and luck with the harvest. In medieval Germany (around 1500), Germans brought pine trees into the home to celebrate the Name Day of Adam and Eve (December 24th). The families would decorate the tree with apples in honor of the two. They were known as Paradise trees because they represented where Adam and Eve met.
Over time, Paradise Trees evolved into Christmas trees, a tradition mostly only celebrated in Germany. In the 18th and 19th centuries, when many Germans immigrated to the United States, they sometimes brought the practice with them. However, it did not catch on in America because it was viewed as a foreign custom. That is until Christmas 1848.
The Queen of England, Queen Victoria, married a German, Prince Albert. In 1848, Queen Victoria asked to have a Christmas tree put up because Prince Albert’s family always decorated a tree for Christmas. Soon after, newspapers published illustrations of the Royal Christmas Tree. It didn’t take long after that for Christmas trees to become popular in Europe. Eventually, the tradition spread to North America too.
So how did popcorn end up on our Christmas trees? Its origins are unknown. Perhaps settlers borrowed the art of popcorn stringing from the German tradition of decorating trees with fruit? Cranberries were the most likely fruit choice to string popcorn into Christmas tree garlands because November is cranberry season.
Today, many people purchase artificial popcorn wreaths. While some families still thread twine or dental floss through popcorn and cranberries to make a holiday garland. It is also common practice to make garlands with real cranberries and popcorn. These garlands are strung outside on evergreens to give birds, squirrels, and other wildlife a treat for the holidays!
So this is why Christmas tree garlands are often made with popcorn.