Christmas wasn't always celebrated the way it is today. In fact, the Puritans of Massachusetts banned any observance of Christmas, and anyone caught observing the holiday had to pay a fine. Connecticut had a law forbidding the celebration of Christmas and the baking of mincemeat pies! A few of the earliest settlers did celebrate Christmas, but it was far from a common holiday in the colonial era. here's a brief but interesting history of the Christmas Tree!
The Christmas tree actually predates Christianity by centuries! Ancient Romans decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, their winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. There is much evidence to suggest that December 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ's birth in order to take over the holiday from the pagans. (Most historians place the birth of Christ as in the spring or summer; shepherds don't watch over their flocks in the fields in the dead of winter! Historians believe the Emporer Constantine did this around the year 390 to combine Christmas with the Saturn and Mithras celebrations and also with the cult of Sol Invictus, a form of Sunday worship that had come to Rome from Syria a century before).
During the middle ages, an evergreen was decorated with apples and called the Paradise tree, as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve and was held on December 24th each year.
The modern Christmas trees appeared in the middle 1500's. The trees were sold at local markets and set up in homes without any ornaments in the Strassbourg area of Alsace in 1531, which was then a part of Germany.
The oldest record of a decorated Christmas tree came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg. The tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies.
Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. Real silver was used at that time, and special machines were invented to pull the silver out into wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight which was used at that time. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century when plastics took its place.
The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles.
The Christmas tree popularity died down somewhat in the UK after the death of Queen Victoria. but in the 1930's (in Britain) there was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas cards all sported Crinoline ladies with muffs and bonnets popular in the 1840's. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top.