During the month of Halloween, I talked quite a lot about the traditions of the holiday and their pagan roots. Unlike Halloween, Christmas is a Christian holiday and therefore can’t be directly traced back to pagan traditions. (Save the argument that it’s the Christian replacement for winter solstice festivities). However, similarly to Halloween, a lot of the modern-day traditions are a hodge-podge collection of other more archaic traditions and the Christmas tree seems to be one of those.
Another tradition originating in the same place (Germany) at roughly the same time is the Christmas Pyramid. These are the contraptions with jolly-looking wood figurines featuring a spinning propeller on top moved by the heat of the candles below. Many people argue that the candles and decorations were added to the paradise tree to create the Christmas tree.
Like most religious holiday traditions the Christmas tree experienced periods of feast and famine. The puritans- being steadfastly against fun or merriment of any kind- outlawed them. The rich aristocrats brought them back and used them to show off how many candles they could afford. Schools, local governments and townships have proudly displayed them and then chucked them when people called fowl over lack of separation of church and state.
The complete history, needless to say, is far more complex and fascinating because it involves cultural traditions from a whole host of other cultures who have their own spin on it, politics, religious controversy, economics and a bunch of other topics. But I’ll leave you to research far more qualified historians for that.