The Christmas tree

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Fabrice Milochau

The Christmas tree

 

A symbol of eternal life, the Christmas tree was already a feature in the pagan decorations. However, it is only recently that the practice has become established in France. Used in Germany to commemorate the Nativity, it arrived first in Alsace, probably during the 16th century, then in Lorraine, finally to appear in homes all over France. A genuine resurgence of the tree worship of old, it is decorated with garlands, sweets, glass baubles and lights. It is hard to imagine a home without it or a village that has not put one up in its main square.

In the past, the tree was decorated only with fruits, especially apples. It happened that in 1858 apples were scarce as the result of a very poor harvest. Lorraine glassmakers began to blow glass balls as a substitute. Hence the tradition so well-established today of glass baubles hanging from the tree and perpetuated by the glassmaking centre of Meisenthal, in Moselle, which opens its workshops to visitors during December.