No one knows the exact origin of the Christmas tree, but the custom of decorating a tree can be traced to the 15th century, Acne infused, Brotherhood of the Blackheads.
They set up a tree at their guild hall, then on the last night of the holidays, the tree was taken to the town square and people danced around it.
I'm assuming this was also the start of the tradition of getting blackout drunk on whiskey and eggnog and forgetting how lonely you are on the holidays.
Eventually, the different German guildes wanted to one up each other and had themselves a Christmas penis measuring contest and would erect trees outside of their guild halls. Sorry non-guild members, you don’t get to enjoy the tree. Now scram!
The tree was considered a Protestant tradition by the Roman Catholic Church, so it didn’t spread until around 1815, when the Catholics realized they couldn’t stop the tradition. So we did what we do best, took the tradition and did it better than anyone else.
Obviously the Wise Men were the first to give presents on the very first Christmas, but it didn't really catch on. My guess is that Joseph and Mary kept it quiet because the amount taxable on gold and myrrh is astronomical. So this gift giving was kept quiet until Jesus could speak, and then, the humble man he was, he rarely bragged about the gold bars sitting in the bottom of his closet behind his skateboard and baseball card collection.
The tradition of putting presents under the tree can be traced to Queen Victoria’s family in the early 19th century. It’s mostly a boring story about how rich kids got a ton of candy and presents under their tree. On of the princesses writes about it, but again, boring, rich aristocrat stuff. We read a ton of this in British literature in high-school.
Eventually department stores, cities, and people started bringing the gift giving and tree decorating traditions into their house.
Thanks to stores putting up Christmas decorations starting in July, and advancements in artificial Christmas tree technology, it’s now widely accepted to put the trees up starting around Thanksgiving.
Fun Christmas Fact: Initially the tree wasn’t brought in until Christmas Eve and promptly trashed on the 6th of January because it was considered bad luck to do it any other way.
Some have suggested that we turn the period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas into one holiday called “Thanks-mas-Giving” or “The Holy Creation of the Christchild and America the Christ Country, ‘Merica.”
This way we can save time arguing over when its too early to put lights on the house and it gives us an excuse to eat like disgusting pigs for the better part of 30 days. "A second helping, oh yes please. It's the holidays. I'll run it off in the summer."
The Warm Feelings of Christmas
I don't think any mortal can describe it better than Linus on my first post.
Christmas traditions have grown from a scary-ass Pagan holiday, to a celebration of the coming of Christ, to a commercialize shell of that celebration. Please, don't take this as my damnation of the holiday. It's my favorite. In my mind, whenever there’s a holiday where I get presents for someone else’s birth, is a great holiday that can never be ruined by anyone ever.
Fun Christmas Fact: I Love Presents!
Christmas is the time of year where you should love your enemies and friends just a little bit more than on an average day. It's the time of year when the Grinch and Scrooge become not only tolerable people, but heroes. It's the one time of a year when parents can lie to their children and you know what, its not only acceptable, but the world is in on the lie. What's wrong with giving a little hope and happiness during the coldest, darkest months?
Just remember that this is a celebration of love and togetherness. As a world we need to try our best to push the commercialism from our minds, then and only then, we will all have Christmases like those Coca Cola ads, where there’s a roaring fire, a loving family, and a sweet, delicious drink.