A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an ever green conifer such as pine or fir, traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. An artificial Christmas tree is an object made to resemble such a tree, usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th century. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century. The Christmas tree has also been known as the “Yule-tree”, especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.
While it is clear that the modern Christmas tree originates in Renaissance and early modern Germany, there are a number of speculative theories as to its ultimate origin. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Martin Luther.
It is frequently traced to the symbolism of evergreen trees in pre-Christian winter rites, especially with the story of the Donar Oak and Saint Boniface.