|photo credit: Sélestat.fr|
...de même 4 schillings aux gardes forestiers pour surveiller les mais à partir de la Saint Thomas
...likewise 4 shillings to the forest wardens for guarding the fir trees from St. Thomas's Day on
Historians now consider these words to be the first written mention of the Christmas tree. In the old liturgical cycle, St. Thomas's Day was celebrated on December 21, the night of the winter solstice. The fact that the town paid wardens to watch over the forest's trees from this night through Christmas indicates the trees were in danger of being cut down for decoration. Evidence of payment to the wardens for this period has also been found in the registers for 1546, 1555, and 1557, as well a schedule of fines set for those caught stealing a tree.
|photo credit: www.best-of-upper-rhine.com|
Each Christmas season, Sélestat organizes an exhibition in the nave of the Église Saint-Georges entitled "Christmas Tree Decorations Since 1521." Ten fir trees hang suspended from the ceiling, each displaying a different step in the evolution of the Christmas tree from the sixteenth century to the present day. The town celebrates the season with elaborate festivities: a Christmas village, special concerts, and, not surprisingly, a Christmas tree decorating contest.
I just finished decorating my own tree:
At least now I understand the significance of those red plastic apples I hung upon it!
(This post originally appeared in December 2014.)