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This year, while you’re trimming your Christmas tree with all your favorite decorations and stringing up those colorful lights, make sure to think about the British royal family. Afterall, they started the trend in the first place.
Sure, humans have been decorating their homes and churches around the holidays for centuries, but as Town&Country recently reported, it’s likely because of the royal family that we now all drag giant fir, pine, or spruce trees into our homes each year and light them up.
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According to Town&Country, in 1848, an engraving featuring Queen Victoria, Prince Philip, and their children began to make the rounds. In the engraving, the royals are surrounded by toys hidden under a tree that is lit with candles on every branch and trinkets hanging on all sides.
"Queen Victoria and Prince Albert brought the tree into Windsor Castle on Christmas Eve and they would decorate it themselves," Royal Collection curator Kathryn Jones explained in an interview with the BBC in 2010. "They would light the candles and put gingerbread on the tree and the children would be brought in."
Jones added that the practice also likely came into the royal household because Queen Victoria's mother was German. And, in Germany, the idea of decorating Christmas trees was already a fairly regular practice.
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"But for most people in Britain, the idea of having a tree inside was completely new,” she said.
"People would bring in a branch of a tree or holly or mistletoe, but there wasn't that traditional Christmas scene that we know now."
Though Queen Elizabeth, Charles, William, Kate, Meghan, and Harry likely won’t be cutting down their own tree, they will still take part in many of their own thoroughly modern traditions. Traditions like exchanging white elephant gifts, attending church services, and sitting down for a hearty family meal altogether. Because royals really are just like us.