Photo Courtesy of Ryan Bruner

We all are familiar with the song: 

"O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thy leaves are so unchanging...
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thy leaves are so unchanging...
Not only green when summer's here
But also when it's cold and drear...
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Thy leaves are so unchanging."

Here’s a bit of trivia for you, according to Wikipedia.org, the original title is “O Tannenbaum” and it is a German Christmas song.  Based on a traditional folk song, it became associated with the traditional Christmas tree by the early 20th century and sung as a Christmas carol.

The modern lyrics were written in 1824, by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz.  A Tannenbaum is a fir tree. The lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas, or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the firs’ evergreen quality as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.  Anschütz based his text on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck, "Ach Tannenbaum". August Zarnack in 1819 wrote a tragic love song inspired by this folk song, taking the evergreen, "faithful" fir tree as contrasting with a faithless lover. 

The folk song first became associated with Christmas with Anschütz, who added two verses of his own to the first, traditional verse. The custom of the Christmas tree developed in the course of the 19th century, and the song came to be seen as a Christmas carol.  Anschütz's version still had treu (true, faithful) as the adjective describing the firs’ leaves (needles), harking back to the contrast to the faithless maiden of the folk song. This was changed to grün (green) at some point in the 20th century, after the song had come to be associated with Christmas.

So as you decorate your halls this Christmas, you need to remember that fires can spread very quickly through a Christmas tree.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has put together some useful tips for the Christmas season:


  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall of when touched.


  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure that the tree is at least 3’ away from any heat source:  fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure that the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand daily.


  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.  Make sure you are using the lights for the appropriate use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed


  • Get rid of the tree after the tree is dry.  Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage or placed outside against the home.
  • Check with your local community for a recycling facility.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards.

You can read more of NFPA’s safety tips by going to NFPA Winter Holidays. 

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