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Christmas tree

One of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas, the Christmas tree is normally an evergreen tree that is brought in the house or used in the open and is decorated with lights and colourful ornaments during the days preceding and immediately following Christmas. A common decoration is a "Christmas ball", a reflecting sphere of thin metal-coated glass, working as a reducing wide-angle mirror.

Like many other Christmas traditions, the universally-popular Christmas tree is derived from a fusion of Christian ideas with older pagan winter solstice traditions, in this case from the decoration of non-evergreen trees during the winter. The custom originated in Germany. According to one legend, Saint Boniface attempted to introduce the idea of trinity to the pagan tribes using the Cone-shaped evergreen trees because of their triangular appearance. His message was misunderstood and the pagans ceased decorating oaks and started decorating Firs.

Besides this interesting tale, evergreen plants have always been seen as a symbol of regeneration of life, since they were the trees which remained green throughout the cold winter when everything else seemed dead. Traditions involved both entire trees, which were planted in front of houses and decorated on special occasions, as well as branches. The tradition of hanging decorations (representing fruit or gifts) on the trees is very old, with some early reports coming from Germany's upper Rhine region, but the tradition of attaching candles is attributed to Martin Luther. A related tradition was hanging evergreen branches throughout the home. With time, these evergreen branches gave way to garlands, vines and wreaths.