Germany started the tradition of the Christmas tree in the sixteenth century. For most people the Christmas tree is the symbol of Christmas. In most parts of the world Christmas is celebrated in winter when all the other trees appear dead. The evergreen represents everlasting life and hope.
There are many legends surrounding the Christmas tree. One story comes from the Ukraine where their trees have a spider and web for good luck. Legend has it that a poor woman with nothing to put on her children's tree woke on Christmas morning to find the branches covered with spider webs turned to silver by the rising sun.
One very popular legend is that of Martin Luther, a founder of the Protestant faith, who was walking through the forest on Christmas Eve. As he walked he was awed by the beauty of millions of stars glimmering through the branches of the evergreen trees. So taken was he by this beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and took it home to his family. To recreate that same starlight beauty he saw in the wood, he placed candles on all its branches.
Another legend tells of a poor woodsman who long ago met a lost and hungry child on Christmas Eve. Though very poor himself, the woodsman gave the child food and shelter for the night. The woodsman woke the next morning to find a beautiful glittering tree outside his door. The hungry child was really the Christ Child in disguise. He created the tree to reward the good man for his charity.
In many countries in Europe Christmas trees are decorated with food items such as apples, nuts, and marzipan biscuits.