The fashion to decorate conifers for the New Year and Christmas came to us long before the widespread spread of Christianity. In ancient Russia, it was believed that spirits live in the branches of firs, which people tried to appease, decorating their "place of residence" with various decorative elements. It was believed that the presence of such trees in the house would become a symbol of the fact that people living here will always be happy, surrounded by the blessing of higher powers.
For the first time, the custom of installing a fir tree in the house for Christmas appeared in the 7-8th centuries, when Saint Boniface, in order to attract pagans in Germany to Christianity, cut down an oak tree, which was sacred for the latter. Thus, the preacher wanted to show that the anger of the god Thor, to whom the Germans prayed, would not befall him. The oak, falling, knocked down several other trees with it, and only one spruce remained standing. After that Boniface called it “the tree of the Christ Child”, after which Christians everywhere began to decorate their homes with this blessed element.
Initially, the spruce was not decorated, but simply placed in the house. For the first time the decoration was placed on it by Martin Luther in 1513. He placed a star on the very top of the tree in memory of the Star of Bethlehem. After that, other Christmas elements began to appear on the tree. This custom was brought to Russia by Peter I in 1700. The ruler ordered all his fellow citizens to celebrate the arrival of the New Year on January 1, issuing a decree that houses and streets on this day should be decorated with fir and juniper branches.
However, among ordinary people, this custom did not take root too much, since ate was associated with death for everyone. It was customary to cover the road with spruce branches in front of the coffin with the deceased, who were thus seen off on their last journey. Accordingly, such trees did not cause fun. The revival of the tradition was taken up by the wife of Tsar Nicholas I - Alexandra Feodorovna. She commanded with the arrival of the new year in 1818 to decorate the royal chambers with spruce with sweets and toys. And already in 1840, the first Christmas tree bazaars began to open in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where enterprising vendors offered customers festive trees of various splendor.
After the October Revolution, the tree was associated with religion for another 20 years and was under an unspoken ban. Only in 1935, the newspaper Pravda first published an article on how to organize a holiday for children, and it featured a New Year tree. Joseph Stalin agreed that the presence of this tree would be an excellent reason for joy, and after that the tree was no longer a prohibited element of the holiday.
Nowadays, the tree is an invariable attribute of fun and joy. It is installed in almost every home and decorated with toys and garlands on the eve of Christmas and New Years.