Christmas Trivia - Decorations
Why do people decorate their houses at Christmas time?
Christmas decorations are an ancient tradition, pre-dating the celebration of Christmas itself, as evidenced by the some of the ancient symbols still referenced, such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, and a yule log. Written accounts of the common tradition of decorating houses and churches for Christmas date back at least to the 1400's, so decorating houses is not a mere creation of modern consumer culture.
The object of the decorations was partly to provide a festive atmosphere using whatever greenery might be available in winter, and partly to reinforce the holiday's themes through symbols. For example, it is said that the thorns and berries of a holly branch represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus, although before that holly was relevant in pre-Christian solstice celebrations for protection against witches. Similarly, the Christmas colors of red, green, and gold are said to symbolize the blood of christ (red), eternal life (green), and a gift of the magi (gold).
However, the specific decorations used evolved in different places. Christmas trees first appeared in Germany and spread around the world. The Christmas Cactus originated in the UK. Decorating with Poinsettias emerged from Mexico. The display of miniature Christmas Villages comes from the United States.