Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upside Down Christmas Trees


While walking around in the Franklin Park
Conservatory for their “Merry & Bright”
Holiday displays we came upon a decorated
Christmas tree that was hanging up side down.
I had seen pictures of them before where people
had hung them from the ceiling just for fun
but I was surprised to know that it had been an
old German custom at one time.


As a way to express hope in the forth coming
season, 16th century Germans hung evergreen
trees top side down from the ceiling and decorated
them with so many edible ornaments  they were
often called “Sugar Trees”.


Upon further research about the custom
I found several references to the up side
down  trees.
The triangular design of the Fir has also been
used to describe the Holy Trinity of God the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eventually, converts
began to revere the Fir as God's Tree...as they had
once revered the Oak. By the Twelfth Century it
was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a
symbol of Christianity.


The tradition of a Christmas tree spread across
America during the 1800s with the arrival of
German immigrants. One of the first public
displays of a Christmas tree was set up by German
settlers in Pennsylvania at a time when many
people still considered the tree to be a symbol of
pagans. The Germans would bake fancy ornaments
for their trees and then consume the decorations
when the trees were taken down. After Christmas,
these frugal people would strip the needles and then
wrap the branches in cotton to extend the life of the
tree for several Christmases to come. Fruits, nuts,
flowers and lighted candles also adorned the first
American Christmas trees, but only the strongest
could support such a weight without drooping.
Thus, German glassblowers began producing
lightweight glass balls to replace heavier, natural decorations. These lights and decorations were representations of the joy and light of Christmas,
with the star atop the tree symbolic of the
"Star in the East."


Everyone Enjoy Your Week,


T Opdycke said...

The first time I saw an upside down Christmas tree was surprised. I saw it in a beautiful Christmas shop in the area called The Christmas Manor. I wasn't sure whether I liked the look or not. I had no idea it is part of German Christmas lore. The one I saw in the now defunct shop was decorated to the nines, barely a branch left untouched. I prefer the simple decorations of the Conservatory and a tree covered in delicious delights...yummmmmm.

Have a wonderful day!

Darla said...

Huh, who knew? This is very interesting, thank you.

Jeri Landers said...

Lona, I love the idea of the upside down Christmas tree! I think I will put one in my barn for my critters, with lots of tasty goodies on it,goat goodies of course!. It is always so interesting to realize just where are Christmas traditions come from. We just take them for granted without thinking about the history. Don't be surprised if you see a post on my site with an upside down tree, soon!

Liz said...

Hey Lona,

I'd seen upside down trees over the past few years, but like you never realised they were an actual tradition of sorts...

Very interesting indeed Lona!

Hopefully I'll get my tree on Friday and then I can begin to feel festive at long last... Today we attempted to dig our road clear of the snow, obviously people were getting tired of walking or using buses to get around instead! :)

Have a nice week and stay snow free!

Kay said...

Was watching a show on HGTV a week ago and they were decorating "upside down" Christmas trees. They said they were doing it to "be different".

Balisha said...

Hi Lona...What a nice post and pictures. I saw one of these at a gift shop last year. They had sold it and were taking the decorations off. The family who bought it..did it for a joke and put it in their family room. I love to read about all the old traditions having to do with Christmas. I always learn something. Have a great day...Balisha

Becca's Dirt said...

Well thats interesting. I had heard something like that before. Glad to know a little more about it now. Glad they finally lightened the weight of the ornaments huh.

Phoenix C. said...

That is amazing, Lona! I have read quite a lot on the history of Christmas trees before, but have never heard that they were hung upside down! It looks a bit like when one hangs herbs up to dry, which I always like the look of.

madcobug said...

That was very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Floridagirl said...

Loved this history of the Christmas tree, Lona! Very interesting info.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

I did not know that tradition of hanging trees upside down. How interesting but odd to look at. Thanks for sharing that.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I'm a traditionalist...I like my trees rightsideup, the same way that they grow. But as long as they're not black, I'm pretty much embracing of all Christmas trees.

Kate said...

Hmmm... I've never heard of such a thing but I'm liking the idea of the upside down tree. It would be harder for the cat to knock over! ;)

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

I love upside down xmas trees! I see them all the time in restaurants and they are such a great way to conserve space.

Missy said...

I too never realised there was a tradition attached to upside down Christmas trees.
I saw one in a shop decorated with large dangling glass ornaments which made it look like a giant chandelier - very beautiful. I was thinking if you had small children (or a cat) it's one way of keeping them from pulling the decorations off.

Toni said...

I saw an upside down tree at a Christmas home tour recently, and it was gorgeous! All of the ornaments hung away from the tree so they could really been seen in detail instead of lying against the tree when it is right side up. It was placed on a stand somehow instead of hanging from the ceiling (it was an artificial tree).

Miss Merry said...

Thank you so much for sharing your visit to such a gorgeous display. The story of the upside down trees was so interesting, as was the rest of the information. Fun and educational, as well as beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I knew the basic history of Christmas trees, but had not heard of upside down trees before.

Andrea said...

And do you already know the beginnings of Christmas balls hanging on the trees? I heard it the first time from a tourist guide when i was in Antalya, Turkey.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Thank you for the history on these. I had no idea and thought it was just a new trend of some sort.
I saw my first one in a shop fully decorated and was fascinated. I don't think I would ever like one...but..they are certainly interesting.
Merry Christmas! :)

Carol said...

Lona, What an interesting post. I had never read this history. Fascinating they would hang the tree upside down. Perhaps it keeps the juice flowing to the leaves. I love the simplicity of the first Christmas trees decorations. Lovely post!! Have a great week!

sweetbay said...

I've never seen an upside down Christmas tree, much less knew that it's an old German tradition. Very interesting!

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Isn't that amazing Lona ?
We spent a few Christmases in Europe and went to many a Christmas market in Aachen, Cologne, a few in Belgium .. the smell of chestnuts and licorice was wonderful .. and the mulled wine wasn't bad either ! LOL
Great fun post girl : )