Christmas is a holiday that is full of traditions, though some are less well-known than others. In the mid 2000s, in a revival of a Catholic tradition that began in the Middle Ages, people began incorporating upside-down Christmas trees into their celebrations.
The Christmas tree was first used by Saint Bonafice of Devonshire in the seventh century to explain the holy trinity to pagans. The Christmas tree was originally hung upside down so that pagans knew the tree was not simply a floral decoration but was instead a symbol of Christianity. By the 12th century, Christians across Europe were customarily hanging their tree upside down. Eventually, the tradition was replaced with the upright Christmas tree, so that the tree pointed toward heaven.
Misconceptions of the Original Trend
As the tree tradition flipped, some countries in Europe maintained the upside-down approach. Eventually, Christians unfamiliar with the upside-down tree began to think the trend was sacrilege and represented anti-Christmas sentiments. Because of this misconception, some non-Christians use the symbol of the upside-down Christmas tree the same way they use the symbol of the upside-down cross -- which was originally symbolic of Saint Peter's cross -- as an anti-Christ symbol.
Revival of the Original Trend
In the mid 2000s, the upside-down Christmas tree trend became popular again. However, few believe it had much to do with history or a revival of Christian ideas and symbolism. Edward O-Donnell, an expert on Christmas traditions, explained that the upside-down Christmas tree most likely became a trend again because it seemed nontraditional. An upside-down tree looks bizarre in the home and could be considered "edgy" and appeal to non-Christians who celebrate Christmas.
Christmas Tree Symbolism
The Christmas tree has been used to symbolize several Christian concepts. The triangular shape of the tree was originally used to symbolize the three points of the holy trinity. Because fir trees remained lush during the winter, while many other types of trees lost their leaves or died, the fir tree began to symbolize the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Eventually, people started decorating the tree with apples and white wafers taken during Communion. Because of these decorations, the Christmas tree represented both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge.
- San Diego Union-Tribune; Upside-Down Christmas Trees Become Hot-Selling Trend in Holiday Decorating; Matt Sedensky; November 2005
- USA Today; Fake Trees Turn Christmas on its Head; Craig Wilson; November 2005
- Eldrbarry; Legends of the First Christmas Trees; Barry McWilliams; 2001
- Christmas Carnivals; History of the Upside Down Christmas Tree; 2011
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
What Is the Origin of the Christmas Tree?
If you've trampled through the woods to cut down a Christmas tree, you know how magical it is when you find that...
Types of Artificial Christmas Trees
Artificial Christmas trees are becoming more popular each year. They are easy, only need to be bought once, and aren't messy like...
What Is the Meaning of an Upside-Down Peace Sign Tattoo?
Tattoos are used as a form of body decoration or adornment. They are also used to convey personal messages. The peace symbol...
How to Hang a Christmas Tree From the Ceiling
Give your Christmas decorating a twist by hanging an upside-down tree from your ceiling. According to National Public Radio, retailers in the...
Instructions to Make Beer Can Trees
You most commonly see beer can trees at Christmastime, with green beer containers stacked on top of concentric circles and piled high...
How to Explain Halloween to Christian Children
On Oct. 31, the ancient Gaels celebrated the pagan feast of Samhain, wearing masks or costumes and lighting bonfires to appease the...