It was high time to put up the Christmas tree at home (the tree went up in the entrance hall of the Jacques Delors building this week), so this morning we went to a pepinière and brought home a decent-sized tree and dressed it whilst listening to carols. Unlike the question of snow, I felt on safer ground in recalling that the traditional Christmas tree has its origins in Renaissance and early modern Germany but I should have known better than to think that the trail ended there. Looking it up, I was interested to learn (this from the Encyclopaedia Brittanica) that ‘The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.’ The Wiki entry gives an alternative origin: the tree being ‘identified with the “tree of paradise” of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.’ The Wiki account is particularly interesting on how Brunswick soldiers first brought the tradition to North America (Quebec) in 1781 and it was Germans who also brought the tradition to America.