12 Scandinavian Christmas Trees

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. His story is thought to have evolved from the tales of the god Thor and Old Man Winter. Thor rode across the sky in a chariot pulled by large-horned goats, and Old Man Winter wore a hooded fur coat and long beard. 

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 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. The beautiful decorations that adorn trees all over the world can range from the extravagant to the minimalist, with infinite layers in between.

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 fashionable decorating choice. Scandinavian design has a grown in popularity, having previously been a major influence on mid-century modern design (which has also seen a major resurgence). It's minimalist approach to decorating includes a reliance on neutral color palettes with natural elements scattered in as highlights. The style's clean-lined, straight-edged furniture, has come to be regarded by many as the epitome of modern design. The Scandinavian approach to Christmas decorating, which is largely known for its abundance of accessorizing and ornamentation, is a welcome alternative. Enjoy the following 12 rooms decorated with Scandinavian Christmas trees and style. 

  • 01 of 12

    Rustic, Country-Style

    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. This quiet, clean aesthetic can be a welcome change from the over-the-top opulence that generally marks the Christmas 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 place to sing some carols. 

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  • 02 of 12

    Chic and Austere

    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 the large, ornate windows.  

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  • 03 of 12


    Minimalist Scandinavian Christmas tree

    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 adds a bright, warm pop of color to the room. 

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  • 04 of 12

    With White Ornaments

    Christmas tree in a white room
    Ollie & Seb's Haus

    This example also shows how well Scandinavian design makes the tree look and feel like a natural part of the room. With the view of the outdoors afforded by its large bay windows, this space looks like an extension of the snowy field outside. A tree placed front and center looks as if it's growing in its natural habitat. 

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  • 05 of 12

    Full and Lit

    Stately Cristmas tree with teddy bears

    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. 

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  • 06 of 12

    Potted Evergreen Plant

    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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  • 07 of 12

    Asymmetrical Beauty

    Modern Christmas tree in Scandinavian living room
    House of Philia

    Christmas in a Scandinavian room can create a pleasing and visually striking sense of contrast. In this example, the stark colors and straight lines 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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  • 08 of 12

    Global Aesthetic

    Christmas living room with global fabric patterns

    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. 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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  • 09 of 12

    Sparse and Unassuming

    Scandinavian Christmas tree in a basket
    The Cottage Market

    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 that won't overload the thin branches. At the same time, the sparseness of the foliage speaks to the unassuming perspective of Scandinavian design.

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  • 10 of 12

    Star Topper

    Small modern Christmas tree
    Mitt Vita Hus

    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 crown of the tree with no other decorations or ornaments to distract from the focal point. The number and size of the ornaments increases steadily down the tree as the foliage thickens. This weighted approach to trimming creates a tiered look that accentuates the sturdy base of the tree while giving the star topper enough space to shine. 

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  • 11 of 12

    Red Color Scheme

    Scandinavian style Christmas tree decorated with red heart ornaments
    Bo Bedre

    Though the Scandinavian decor is typically defined by a strong adherence to neutral color palettes, that doesn't mean that there isn't any room to spice things up with an extra bit of color. 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.

    The color is beautifully echoed in the ribbon that binds the gifts together, as well as the table settings and flowers that decorate the dining table. 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.

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  • 12 of 12

    Golden Stars

    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. Additionally, the shade of warm metallics blends beautifully with the wood tones for an even stronger warming effect.