It has been somewhat forgotten beneath the tidal wave of commercialism that is the modern Christmas experience, but the practice of decorating a tree over the festive season actually originated in the German-speaking lands of northern Europe. Renaissance-era Germany saw trees covered in apples, nuts, pretzels and more, ostensibly to provide extra joy for kids but also to provide a little cheer for everybody and to stick it to the Catholics at the same time (the trees were also a counterpart to Catholic cribs).
Centuries have passed since those humble 16th century beginnings, and the decorating of a tree at Christmas is a truly global phenomenon. Berlin’s Deutsches Historisches Museum has a special festive exhibition covering that very subject, looking at the history and evolution of the beloved Christmas tree. This isn’t just a whimsical light show however, as decorations continue to prove contentious; the Nazi regime’s appropriation of the illuminated tree is still a keen point of discussion across the land today.
But design comes first and foremost here, and this truly is an aesthetically majestic journey through a genuinely international celebration. Expect to see a huge variety of decorations throughout the exhibition, but that warm festive feeling in your stomach will remain pleasantly familiar.
(pic in App: Plakat des Winterhilfswerkes (WHW) zur 3. Reichsstraßensammlung 1939 © Deutsches Historisches Museum)