32¢ Tree Decorating
Issue Date: October 8, 1996
City: North Pole, AK
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
A fully decorated fir tree is one of the universal symbols of Christmas. The very sound of spruce, balsam, and cedar conjures up images of piny fragrances and of Christmases past and Christmases yet to come.
Who cannot recall childhood trips to the woods or tree lot in search of the perfect tree? And not finding one, the delicious memories of the family transforming a misshapen tree into a thing of beauty and wonder?
It seems like Christmas trees have always been with us, but this is not so. It is believed the practice began with the German-speaking peoples. One legend claims people brought fir trees indoors for the winter solstice after a missionary convinced them that this was a better way to celebrate life rather than sacrificing their youth in the dark forest. Another story claims Martin Luther began the practice.
Although German immigrants adorned their holiday tables with fir trees, the practice did not become fashionable until German-born Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, set up the first Christmas tree in Buckingham Palace. New York City’s high society, predominantly Anglo-Saxon, jumped on board. The practice spread through the land and within five decades, Christmas without an evergreen tree was simply not Christmas.