All About Upside-Down Christmas Trees

Upside-down Christmas tree
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For many, the Christmas season is a time for friends and family to gather together in celebration and give thanks, take stock of the year that's ending, and prepare for the year to come. While all these festivities occur around a Christmas tree for many, in some houses, it's happening under a bit of a holiday twist—an upside-down Christmas tree. While the unusual practice has increased in popularity in recent years, it actually dates back centuries and has a fascinating history.

History of the Upside-Down Christmas Tree

Hanging fir trees upside-down in the home harkens back to the Middle Ages when Europeans employed the act in order to represent the Holy Trinity. The first to do this, according to many sources, was Saint Boniface, a Benedictine monk, who used the inverted trees as a theological teaching tool for pagan Germans. It continued throughout Europe into the 19th century, primarily adopted by working-class and lower-class households that hung trees from their rafters due to both religious significance and a lack of household space.

Modern Upside-Down Christmas Trees

In modern times, Christmas trees are shaped with the tip pointing to heaven, and some consider an upside-down Christmas tree to be disrespectful or sacrilegious. However, upside-down holiday trees have also been used increasingly by retailers for in-store displays so more ornaments can be visible at eye level to consumers. Plus, it frees up additional floor space to hold extra stock of decorations or an additional holiday display.

Needless to say, the upside-down Christmas tree trend has caught on, especially with homeowners and decorators that are looking for fresh, innovative ways to surprise and delight their holiday guests. They are now being sold not just as a novelty piece but as an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree. 

Beyond just the aesthetic "wow" an upside-down Christmas tree can provide, there are a few practical conveniences as well. Households with little children may struggle to keep especially fragile or breakable ornaments out of the reach of tiny hands. With an upside-down Christmas tree, you don't have to worry—when suspended from the ceiling, most (if not all) of the ornaments will be out of reach. Another perk: Cats and dogs won't be racing around the floor and knocking decorations off the base of your upside-down Christmas tree.

Decorating an Upside-Down Christmas Tree

To hang an upside-down Christmas tree from the ceiling, you'll want to either loop a hanging wire around the trunk of your tree and secure that to the wall or drill a hole through the trunk and thread the wire through it. You can also go "chandelier style" by drilling a heavy-duty hook into the ceiling securely and suspending the tree from the hook. Other installation options include mounting it tip-down on the wall or purchasing a special stand for upside-down trees.

This particular statement-maker does pose a bit of a decorating challenge, however. Keep all ornaments, garland, and lights on the lightweight side—you're working against gravity after all, so anything too heavy is likely to come crashing to the floor. Something like old-fashioned tinsel is ideal because it's practically weightless and adds lots of eye-catching sparkle.

If opting for ornaments as well, choose a style that is both shatterproof (there's a greater chance they might fall off the inverted branches) and has more of a design touch to them. Because the tree is upside-down, the inverted branches mean that ornaments are more visible (rather than tucked into the branches like with a traditional tree). Therefore, your ornaments will be getting more showtime, and they should be pretty enough to take center stage. You can stick with your usual theme and ornaments or lean a little more dramatic and take advantage of the higher visibility for your decoration.

Upside-Down Christmas Tree Safety

With a suspended style such as this, it's important to keep a few safety rules in mind as you hang and enjoy your upside-down Christmas tree. For starters, consider carefully where you plan to locate your tree—you never want to compromise the structure of your home or old antique features (like wood beams) at the expense of a seasonal decoration. Take into account the weight of your tree, too. You may want to opt for a smaller one for your eye-catching display (think: a Charlie Brown tree) or go for a faux version that doesn't include the heavy wood the real deal would have.

Last, be sure to caution any children or guests about your hanging display. It shouldn't be pulled or tugged on while suspended, and it's probably a wise idea to make sure nothing super fragile is placed beneath it in case it falls. Taller adults should keep an extra-careful eye out, too—you don't want anyone walking head-first into your hanging tree when they least expect it.