The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum or Christbaum or "Tannenbaum") with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.
The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts, or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
The Christmas tree has also been known as the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloric origins.
Young woman decorates the Christmas tree, painting by Marcel Rieder (1862-1942) from 1898
Fröhliche Weihnachten (Glade jul), painting by Johansen Viggo from 1891