How Wacky Are Thy Branches: The World’s Strangest Christmas Trees
If we’re being honest, the history of the Christmas tree is murky, pre-dating Christianity itself. European pagans worshipped evergreen trees as symbols of eternal life, and in Scandinavia, the tradition survived religious conversion. Many decorated their homes with wreaths and trees for the birds at Christmas time, and to shoo the devil away at the New Year.
The modern Christmas tree is most often traced back to the Renaissance, typically to protestant reformer Martin Luther himself. Standing at the vanguard of arbor décor, he is believed to be the first to bedeck an evergreen tree with lighted candles.
Whatever the story, it’s probably fair to say Luther and his forebears didn’t envision a future in which their holy trees weren’t harvested from the forest. They certainly didn’t envision a 600-ton sand sculpture on the beaches of Florida.