The tradition of decorating the Paradeisbaum,
or Paradise trees, originated in Europe. Christians would celebrate the holiday
Christmas Eve by acting out important events in Scripture. One of the skits
that was performed was The Garden of Eden scene. Since it was the
wintertime in Europe it was not possible to find an apple tree bearing fruit, so
an evergreen tree would be substituted. The actors first hung apples on their
"Paradise Trees," later adding other adornments such as dried fruits
The increase in popularity of the Paradeisbaum is attributed to Martin Luther.
It is believed that he first added lighted candles to his Paradise Tree after
walking home through the woods one winter evening. He was in the midst of
composing a sermon and was awestruck by the brilliance of the millions of
twinkling stars above the evergreens. So inspired by the beauty of God's
creation, he cut down an evergreen and brought it home to his family, then wired
lighted candles to the tree to recreate the starlit scene.
Paradise trees eventually became known as Christ Trees, and eventually, Christmas
It is believed that Christmas trees were brought to America by Germans that
immigrated to Pennsylvania. The diary of Matthew Zahm of Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, records the introduction of the Christmas tree being brought to
the New World December 20, 1821.