Christmas Tree, a conifer decorated with lights, baubles and sweets put up at Christmas. The Christmas tree first became popular in the middle of the 19th century. It had precursors in the Reformation among the guilds and craftsmen, and later among the Protestant nobility. (The first report of a candle-lit tree is from around 1660 by Liselotte von der Pfalz, who mentions candles at the Court of Hanover in a memoir of her youth). At the time of the Congress of Vienna, in 1814/1815, the first Christmas trees were put up in Vienna by Protestant nobles from Germany, and by many members of the Jewish grande bourgeoisie. The oldest account of a Christmas celebrated after the "Berlin custom" by Baron Arnstein comes from 1814. In 1816 the wife of Archduke Karl, Henriette von Nassau celebrated Christmas with an illuminated tree. Although the first Christmas trees were sold at Schottentor in 1829, Catholic circles were hesitant in adopting the new custom, which was replacing the traditional crèche or crib. Although by 1850 the Christmas tree had become a firmly established tradition of middle class festive practices, it remained largely unknown in the lower social classes up to the end of the 19th century. In rural areas it took even longer for the tree to become part of the Christmas tradition. The putting up of Christmas trees in the open air, primarily in front of schools and churches, had already been propagated in 1871 in the Gartenlaube magazine ("Christmas trees for everybody") and became increasingly popular in the 20th century (first in 1912 in New York). In the inter-war period the first Christmas tree illuminated by electric lights was put up in front of the Vienna State Opera; in 1955 Christmas trees were put up in more than 600 places in Austria. Since 1959, a tree has been put up every year in front of the Vienna town hall as a present from one of the provinces to the capital.
Literature#R. Wolfram, Christbaum und Weihnachtsgruen, in: Oesterreichischer Volkskundeatlas, 2nd instalment, 1965; H. P. Fielhauer, Christbaum-Nachlese, in: Oe. Zeitschrift fuer Volkskunde 82/33, 1979; H. Wolf, Das Brauchbuch, 1992.