A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. The modern Christmas tree was developed in early modern Germany (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum),
The tree was traditionally decorated with "roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, [and] sweetmeats". In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garlands, baubles, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity. Edible items such as gingerbread, chocolate and other sweets are also popular, and are tied to or hung from the tree's branches with ribbons.
In the Western Christian tradition, Christmas trees are variously erected on days such as the first day of Advent or even as late as Christmas Eve depending on the country; customs of the same faith hold that the two traditional days when Christmas decorations, such as the Christmas tree, are removed are Twelfth Night and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.
The Christmas tree is sometimes compared with the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloric origins.
Christmas ornaments are decorations (usually made of glass, metal, wood, or ceramics) that are used to decorate a Christmas tree. The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers. Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany, and also garlands of glass beads and tin figures that could be hung on trees. The popularity of these decorations grew into the production of glass figures made by highly skilled artisans with clay molds.
Tinsel and several types of garland or ribbon are commonly used to decorate a Christmas tree. Silvered saran-based tinsel was introduced later. Delicate mold-blown and painted colored glass Christmas ornaments were a specialty of the glass factories in the Thuringian Forest, especially in Lauscha in the late 19th century, and have since become a large industry, complete with famous-name designers. Baubles are another common decoration, consisting of small hollow glass or plastic spheres coated with a thin metallic layer to make them reflective, with a further coating of a thin pigmented polymer in order to provide coloration. Lighting with electric lights (Christmas lights or, in the United Kingdom, fairy lights) is commonly done. A tree-topper, sometimes an angel but more frequently a star, completes the decoration.
In the late 1800s, home-made white Christmas trees were made by wrapping strips of cotton batting around leafless branches creating the appearance of a snow-laden tree. In the 1940s and 1950s, popularized by Hollywood films in the late 1930s, flocking was very popular on the West Coast of the United States. There were home flocking kits that could be used with vacuum cleaners. In the 1980s some trees were sprayed with fluffy white flocking to simulate snow.
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