12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Though it misses being one of Christmas' oldest traditions by about a thousand years, the Christmas tree is without a doubt one of the season's most beloved and enduring symbols. While it took some time for the tree to become a standard part of the Christmas holiday, the use of an evergreen tree in European celebrations of winter (often in anticipation of returning warmth and sun) predates the Christianization of the continent and even the founding of the religion itself by centuries. The Vikings of Scandinavia and their celebration of Yule, along with several other similar festivals observed by Germanic peoples, provide the basis for many of the customs that we, today, assign to the Christmas holiday. The use of mistletoe, the eating of ham, and the observation of twelve days of celebration are all originally part of these celebrations. Even Santa Claus is rumored to have Nordic origins, a combination of the belief in Thor—who was among the gods celebrated at Yule and rode across the sky in a chariot pulled by large-horned goats—and Old Man Winter, whose hooded fur coat and long beard certainly sound like familiar elements of an another beloved Christmas icon. But even with all of that, the tree remains perhaps the most important element borrowed from Scandinavian celebrations when it comes to how we decorate for the holiday season.  

    As a familiar presence in older European feasts and celebrations, the evergreen tree became assimilated into the observation of Christmas as part of the Europeanization of the religion. Once the tree was actually included as a standard part of the observation of the holiday—an event which many believe did not take place until the 15th or 16th century—the symbolism of the tree was reassigned to represent everlasting life. Today the Christmas tree is a universally understood icon of the holiday season, and in its history has seen many versions, iterations, and styles. The beautiful decorations that adorn trees all over the world can range from the extravagant to the minimalist, with infinite layers in between for creating holiday decor that will remain a part of our memories from year to year.

    With so much connection between modern Christmas celebrations and the Scandinavian celebrations of old, it's really no wonder that Scandinavian Christmas tree styles have become such a popular decorating choice for this time of year. Scandinavian design has been a growing trend for the last several years (having previously been a major influence on what is now thought of as mid-century modern design). It's minimalist approach to decorating, including a reliance on neutral color palettes with natural elements scattered in as highlights against clean-lined, straight-edged furniture, has come to be regarded by many as the epitome of modern design. So to see that approach brought to Christmas decorating, which is known largely for bright colorful explosions, an expansive use of metallics and an abundance of accessorizing and ornamentation, the result is nothing less than striking. Here are 12 of our favorite rooms that decorate for the holidays with Scandinavian Christmas trees.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Rustic Scandinavian Christmas tree
    Mamsell Lufolk

    In essence, the Scandinavian style is a rustic, country style that favors functionalism over crowding a space with decorations. At Christmas time, this quiet, clean aesthetic can be a welcome change from the busyness that generally marks the season. In this room, a series of faux candles is all that's needed to make this tree the highlight of the space. The addition of the piano makes this the perfect space for spending time with family and singing songs while reflecting on the year to end and the year to come.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Tiny Scandinavian Christmas tree
    Mamsell Lufolk

    For this chic, even austere aesthetic, nothing is overdone. There's no need to struggle with trees that brush the ceiling or overwhelm the space. Especially not when something much smaller will do. This tiny tree is the perfect complement to this space. 

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    What makes the Scandinavian approach to Christmas decorating stand out is the naturalness with which the tree is incorporated into the surrounding space. Instead of being conspicuously designated as a focal point, the tree is allowed to simply add to the space. Here, together with a small lit fireplace flanked by neatly cordoned stacks of wood, the tree acts as the bright, warm pop of color to this space.


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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    This room also shows how well Scandinavian design makes the tree look and feel like a natural part of the room. This space in particular so resembles a snowy field —especially with the view of the outdoors afforded by its large bay windows—that a tree growing out of the center of it hardly looks out of place at all.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    In this room, the Christmas tree is paired with a wreath, another decoration that has played a number of roles in ancient European winter holiday traditions. According to one origin theory, wreaths were used in the Scandinavian Yule festival in which they were lit on fire and rolled down a hill as a means of inciting the sun to return. Other theories link them to Celtic traditions or to accessories worn by Roman nobility. Whatever the case may have been, wreaths are a welcome sight every holiday season and in this room, it works with the tree to create a beautifully natural feel for the space.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Scandinavian Christmas tree in a bag stand

    For a Scandinavian-style Christmas, even a small, potted, evergreen plant can be all you need to fill your home with the holiday spirit. This tree is a perfect example of Scandinavian-style, planted in a simple yet sturdy-looking bag and paired with a sheepskin rug.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Christmas in a Scandinavian room can create a pleasing and visually striking sense of contrast as the stark colors and straight lines that define the aesthetic are broken up by the deep greens and fuzzy asymmetry of the tree itself. Here, a healthy dose of decoration accents the tree wonderfully, adding light and color to the room.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    For a warmer and more lively look, pair Scandinavian design with other global aesthetics for a well-traveled and sophisticated home. In this space, the pillows add a striking level of pattern and texture to the room, while the wooden floor brings a sense of warmth to the entire environment. For the tree, consider other globally inspired accents such as Christmas ornaments decorated with African-inspired prints or patterns. And if you find yourself having a hard time finding exactly what you're looking for, you can always make your own.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    In emphasizing the minimalist aesthetic that is the hallmark of this style, Scandinavian rooms decorated for Christmas often use trees with sparse or thin branches. This approach brings greater attention to a smaller number of ornaments without your decorations having to compete with one another or overloading the branches. At the same time, the sparseness of the foliage speaks to the unassuming perspective of Scandinavian design.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Similarly, another benefit of having thinner or fewer branches at the top of the tree is how it allows your tree topper to stand alone. Here a simple star gains that much more gravity and interest because of how it alone defines the very top of the tree with no other decorations or ornaments to distract from it. At the same time, the manner in which the number and size of the ornaments increases steadily down the tree towards the bottom as the foliage thickens creates a tiered look that accentuates the unique features of this tree.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Scandinavian style Christmas tree decorated with red heart ornaments
    Bo Bedre

    Though Scandinavian decor is typically defined by a strong adherence to neutral color palettes, that doesn't mean that there's isn't any room to spice things up with an extra bit of color. And what better time is there to break the rules than at Christmas? While, for the most part, this room keeps with the classic Scandinavian color conventions, the Christmas tree is festooned from top to bottom in bright, colorful ornaments that are straight from the heart. The color is beautifully echoed in the ribbon that binds all of the gifts as well as the table settings and flowers that decorate the dining table for a line of warmth and color that runs all throughout the space. And despite mixing in a little more color than is standard for rooms done in this style, the repetition of one primary ornament throughout the tree helps to maintain the sense of minimalism that Scandinavian design requires. In fact, someone may want to hang on to those heart ornaments after the tree comes down because Valentine's Day will be right around the corner.

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    12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

    Christmas tree with large gold star ornaments

    Another way to warm up a cool, Scandi-style room for the holidays is to throw a few metallic elements into the mix. Warm metallics like brass, copper, and bronze are a well-loved staple of holiday decor. Moreover, they blend amazingly well with the deep, leafy greens that are found in most Christmas trees and holiday wreaths. Extra touches, like the brass bowl on the mantle in this room, help to ground the tree decoration as part of the space while creating a layered look in which nothing appears to be out of place. Finally, the shade of warm metallics blends beautifully with the wood tones found elsewhere in the room for an even stronger warming effect overall.