December 26th, 2012 - Dirk-631502 said:
Hello. I have no idea why most people put up their Christmas tree in early December.
The Christmas tree originated in Germany, probably as early as around 1600. I disagree that it's pagan, since the Christmas tree was the idea of Christians, not pagans. The tradition was that the Christmas tree was to be put up on Christmas eve, and was kept until February 2, just before Lent. Never before that. The tree was lit by candles, with very little ornaments. We still use candles on our tree and it's a very different experience. Our family keeps our tree up until around January 6, the feast of the Three Wise Men.
For advent, we use a traditional advent wreath with either red or white candles. The origins of the advent wreath are obscure, but it made its first "appearance" in Germany around the 1830's in Hamburg. The wreath as we now it today was created by Johann Hinrich Wichern, a protestant minister who ran the Rauhes Haus children's mission school. The school is still there - my father lived very nearby the school. It originally had many more candles - 19 small red candles, and 4 large white candles placed on a wagon wheel. In Germany you will typically see only red or white candles used. The Catholic church only later adopted the advent wreath and used purple candles, and pink for Gaudete Sunday. For us of German background, the purple and pink colours seem rather strange.
Originally, the season of advent was 6 weeks long and was called the winter lent. I can't recall which Pope changed it from 6 to 4 weeks - this I think happened in the early part of the twentieth century or perhaps earlier.
Anyway, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.