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The tradition of decorating the Paradeisbaum, or Paradise trees, originated in Europe. Christians would celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve by acting out important events in Scripture. One of the skits that was performed was The Garden of Eden scene. Since it was during the wintertime it was not possible to find an apple tree bearing fruit, so an evergreen tree would be substituted. The actors first hung apples on their "Paradise Trees," later adding other adornments such as dried fruits and nuts.
The increase in popularity of the Paradeisbaum is attributed to Martin Luther. It is believed that he first added lighted candles to his Paradise Tree after walking home through the woods one winter evening. He was in the midst of composing a sermon and was awestruck by the brilliance of the millions of twinkling stars above the evergreens. So inspired by the beauty of God's creation, he cut down an evergreen and brought it home to his family. He then wired lighted candles to the tree to recreate the starlit scene. (Don't try this at home!)
Paradise trees eventually became known as Christ Trees, and eventually, Christmas Trees. It is believed that Christmas trees were brought to America by Germans who immigrated to Pennsylvania. The diary of Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, records the introduction of the Christmas tree being brought to the New World December 20, 1821.
Today, millions of Christians around the globe decorate their Christ trees using Chrismon or Jesse Tree ornaments. It is wonderful to know that the origin of Christmas tree's came from acting out Bible stories!
Make a 3-D Cookie Tree
Ingredients: A box of ice cream sugar cones, green frosting, white frosting, and small red candies or red frosting. (To make it easy on yourself, buy the ready-to-use white frosting in a can and color it with green food color, and buy the white decorator frosting in the tubes.)
How To Make: Turn the sugar cones upside down and spread the green frosting over the outside of the cones. Apply the white frosting like a garland, and place the red candies on the trees for the ornaments. (Or, make dots with red frosting.) Enjoy!
This easy-to-make treat is one of the projects you'll find in Journey to the Manger - Kids Can @ Christmas Time! - An Advent celebration of 31 crafts and recipes!