First lady Michelle Obama received the 2015 Christmas tree at the White House on Friday, according to USA Today. The Fraser fir is said to be 18-1/2 feet in length and to have been grown in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and harvested by Glenn and Jay Bustard.
The Christmas tree farmers won a nation-wide contest and presented their winning tree to Michelle Obama personally at the front entrance to the White House.
The tree will be displayed in the Blue Room of the presidential residence. The National Christmas Tree Association has been charged with supplying trees for the White House since 1966. A national Christmas tree will also be lit by President Obama at the Ellipse, adjacent to the White House, on Friday December 4, according to the National Parks Service.
According to the Seattle Times, other accounts place the first Christmas tree in the White House in the 1850s or 1860s. Almost certainly, by the end of 1880s, with President Benjamin Harrison, Christmas trees had become a regular feature for the president and his family.
Though no one is certain when the first Christmas trees were brought indoors, some guess that it might have been about 1,000 AD in northern Europe.
By the 1600s, Germans were said to have regularly brought evergreen firs indoors at Christmastime, according to History. Marin Luther is thought to be the first person to decorate a Christmas tree with candles. Early German Christmas trees are reported to have been decorated with edible treats, such as apples, gingerbread, and “wafers.”
There are many other legends concerning to the origins of Christmas trees. The custom appeared to first be popular with German and Latvian people; the countries aren’t located very far apart.
One legend describes St. Boniface of Crediton finding a group of pagans about to sacrifice a boy tied to a tree and cutting the tree down in anger, only to watch an evergreen tree grow immediately in its place. He and his followers interpreted this as confirmation of the Christian faith and decorated the tree with candles so that St. Boniface could “preach to the pagans at night.”
Electric Christmas lights were first invented in 1895. Despite this, many fires were caused by people using candles in Christmas trees for years following. When they eventually became the standard, lights were seen as a life-saving invention.
[AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais]