Saturday, November 26, 2016
Christmas Trees In Canada
The first Christmas tree in North America appeared on Christmas Eve 1781, in Sorel, Québec, when the baroness Riedesel hosted a party of British and German officers. She served an English pudding, but the sensation of the evening was a balsam fir cut for the occasion and placed in the corner of the dining room, its branches decorated with fruits and lit with white candles. The baroness was determined to mark her family's return to Canada after a trying ordeal with a traditional German celebration.
Baron Frederick-Adolphus Riedesel was commander of a group of German soldiers sent by the Duke of Brunswick to help defend Canada. Riedesel and his family were taken prisoner during the disastrous British offensive in northern New York in 1777. They were not released until 1780, when they returned to Sorel.
The famous English engraving of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their tree in 1848. The German-born Albert helped to popularize the Christmas tree in Britain and Canada (Illustrated London News).
It is commonly said that the Christmas tree's popularity dates from the time of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, who decorated a tree at Windsor Castle in 1841 to celebrate their first-born son. However, though Albert may have popularized the Christmas tree, the English royal family had been decorating trees since at least 1800 when Queen Charlotte raised one at Queen's Lodge, Berkshire. The tradition only gained popularity among the general population after the illustration of the family's decorated tree at Windsor Castle was published in 1848.
The first time a Christmas tree was lit by electricity was in 1882 in the New York City home of Edward Johnson, of the Edison Electric Company. He lit a Christmas tree with a string of 80 small electric light bulbs, which he had made himself. These strings of light began to be produced around 1890. One of the first electrically lit Christmas trees was erected in Westmount, Québec, in 1896. In 1900, some large stores put up illuminated trees to attract customers.
Today the Christmas tree is a firmly established tradition throughout Canada, where the fresh scent of the evergreen and the multicoloured decorations contrast with the dark nights and bleak landscape. Beyond its pagan and Christian origins, the Christmas tree is a universal symbol of rebirth, of light in the darkest time, of hovering angels, and of the star that points to the place of peace.
©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
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