Where did the tradition of the Christmas tree come from?
I stole this off of a website. No I am not going to provide a works cited page. Yes it is kind of boring. No you don't have to read it.
Since ancient times, evergreen plants have adorned homes in the wintertime. Many ancient civilizations worshipped a sun god that they believed got sick in the winter. Late December was a time of celebration for them because at that time, the sun god’s physical condition began to improve.
The winter solstice, which occurs around December 22nd, is the day when there is the least amount of sunlight. The ancients knew that after that time, the days would begin to get longer and longer, winter would end, and the harvest would soon come. The solstice, therefore, was a time of great celebration, and evergreen trees and their branches played a big role in the festivals that took place because they were evidence that the sun god was not dead; he was simply weakened for a time, but he would regain his strength eventually.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, a lot of pagan traditions were either incorporated into Christian worship or commandeered by it. It is possible that the early European Christians simply respected the local traditions and incorporated the use of evergreens into their celebration of the incarnation. Or they could have decided to celebrate the birth of Christ in late December in opposition to the pagan winter solstice celebrations, teaching them instead to use their previously held traditions to worship Jesus, not the Balder, the sun god worshiped by the Vikings or Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture.
One legend says that in 8th century Germany, a British missionary now known as St. Boniface cut down an oak tree that represented the Norse god Thor. In some versions of the legend, a fir tree grew out of the roots of the oak. In other versions, the oak fell, destroying every tree in its path except a small fir tree. Either way, St. Boniface viewed the fir as a miracle and encouraged Christians to use the fir tree as a symbol of Christ.
No matter how it happened, we know that the Romans, the Vikings and the Druids all decorated their homes with evergreen plants in the winter as a symbol of life. And we know that in 16th century Germany, Christians brought evergreen trees into their homes, beginning the tradition of the Christmas tree as we know it today.