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One of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas, the Christmas tree is normally an evergreen coniferous tree that is brought in the house or used in the open and is decorated with lights and colourful ornaments during the days preceding and immediately following Christmas. The tradition is most widely observed in the more northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere (north of about 45�N latitude), where Christmas falls at a time when daylight hours are very short, and temperatures often below freezing (0�C) with snow covering the ground. This is a continuance of the ancient pagan idea that the evergreen tree represents a celebration of the renewal of life at a time of death, darkness and cold at the winter solstice. A common decoration is a "Christmas ball", a reflecting sphere of thin metal-coated glass, working as a reducing wide-angle mirror.

Like many other Christmas traditions, the universally-popular Christmas tree is derived from a fusion of Christian ideas with older pagan traditions. The custom originated in Germany. According to one legend, Saint Boniface attempted to introduce the idea of trinity to the pagan tribes using the Cone-shaped evergreen trees because of their triangular appearance. The tradition of hanging decorations (representing fruit or gifts) on the trees is very old, with some early reports coming from Germany's upper Rhine region, but the tradition of attaching candles is attributed to Martin Luther. A related tradition was hanging evergreen branches throughout the home. With time, these evergreen branches gave way to garlands, vines and wreaths.

Many cultures since then have expanded upon the use of the Christmas tree for celebrations. Residents of Strasbourg in the 16th century decorated fir trees during the Christmas season. The tradition seems to have spread throughout Europe and was most likely brought to the United States by German settlers. In 1923, United States president Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Portions of this article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License . It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Christmas Tree" .