The tradition of decorating the Paradeisbaum, or Paradise trees, originated in Europe. Christians would celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve by acting out important events in Scripture. One of the skits that was performed was the 'The Garden of Eden' scene. Since it was the wintertime in Europe it was not possible to find an apple tree with apples, so an evergreen tree would be substituted. The actors first hung apples on their "Paradise Trees", later adding other adornments such as dried fruits and nuts.
The increase in popularity of the Paradeisbaum is attributed to Martin Luther. It is believed that he first added lighted candles to his Paradise Tree after walking home through the woods one winter evening. He was in the midst of composing a sermon and was awestruck by the brilliance of the millions of twinkling stars above the evergreens. So inspired by the beauty of God's creation, he cut down an evergreen and brought it home to his family, then wired lighted candles to the tree to recreate the starlit scene.
Paradise trees eventually became known as 'Christ Trees', then Christmas Trees. It is believed that Christmas trees were brought to America by Germans that immigrated to Pennsylvania. The diary of Matthew Zahm of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, records the introduction of the Christmas tree being brought to the New World December 20, 1821.
We would like to take this time to thank each of our donors and customers for helping us "Do the Most Good". Without your continued support, we would be unable to continue to help reunite families that have been devastated by addiction. The hopelessness that many come to The Salvation Army with would not be filled with hope and self-worth without your help.
With your help we have provided a safe haven for over 300 men and women to recover from their drug and alcohol addictions this year. Our 6 month work therapy program helps equip each beneficiary with the tools that are needed to survive an addiction free life outside of The Salvation Army's walls. Plus, we continue to support those who have gone through the program after they leave. These programs are solely financed by the sales of donated items through our 8 store locations.
So we thank each and every one of you for your continued support. We wish you a blessed and safe Christmas as you spend time with your family and friends.