• The Tree

    Press Release
    19 December 2014

    As a family we decorated our Christmas tree last week. Our young daughters rallied round and it was a wonderful family occasion with carols interspersed with Slade, Mud, a bit of 80s glam rock – a glass of wine or two, an early mince pie, some less than tuneful singing, some rather awkward dancing on my part (well dad’s are never dancers) and a short discussion on the meaning of Christmas. The Christmas tree tradition really came in force to our shores during Victoria’s reign. It was Prince Albert who turbo-charged its advance – ensuring that the tree was the centrepiece of royal Christmas celebrations and providing complimentary conifers to local schools and the army barracks in Windsor. The Germanic part of Europe’s claim to the tree can perhaps be traced back far further to St Boniface (Germany’s patron saint) who during his seventh century life of hyperactive Christian mission famously cut down an oak which was being worshiped by pagans in Hesse and replaced it with an evergreen. The shape of the tree – being roughly triangular – said to be suggestive of the trinity. The rather precise and big moment for the explosive rise of the Christmas tree was 1848 when the royal Christmas scene, complete with tree at centre was captured in an engraving that was reproduced in the London Illustrative News. At that precise moment the future of the humble Crimble tree was secured as it stretched its needled fingers throughout the country and the empire beyond. So from Germany to us to the rest of the world. Or perhaps that should be from Devon to the world. For St Boniface was, after all, thought to have been born in Devon – in Crediton in the heart of our parliamentary constituency.