The origin of the Christmas Tree is in doubt, as its use has only been recorded in comparatively modern times. The first recorded one was in Alsace in 1556. Such a tree is mentioned in 1605, when we are told it was to be found in houses in Strasbourg. In 1737 Karl Gottfried Kissling of the University of Wittenberg alluded to the custom of decorating it with candles. These days, electric lights are generally substituted for candles, as the latter are a fire hazard. Legend has it that German soldiers introduced it to Canada in 1781. By 1800 the Christmas Tree seems to have been well established in Germany. At this time also it may have come into use amongst the Swedish population group in Finland, but it is not recorded in Sweden itself.
There is doubt about which was the first Christmas Tree in the United States. It is said there was one at Windsor Locks (Connecticut) in 1777 and that this was the first such tree in America. However, two Pennsylvania sites, Easton and Lancaster, each claims that theirs was the first.
In England the Christmas Tree is first mentioned in 1789, but Christmas Trees only really became popular after Queen Victoria had one in 1841. We may detect a German influence here - she was half-German and her husband, Prince Albert, was a full German.
The Christmas Tree became known in Denmark and Norway in 1830 and in France in 1840. Sweden adopted it somewhat later.
Whether the Tree can be traced back to pagan sources, such as the Oak of Odin is uncertain. The story that it was invented by Martin Luther is no more than a legend.