Exploring the Upside-Down Christmas Tree Phenomenon

Upside-down Christmas tree
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For many, Christmas is a time for friends and family to gather and give thanks, take stock of the year that's ending, and prepare for the year to come. While this usually occurs around a Christmas tree, in some houses it's happening under an upside-down Christmas tree. While the practice has increased in popularity in recent years, it dates back centuries with a fascinating history.

Upside Down Christmas Tree History

Hanging fir trees upside down dates back to the Middle Ages when Europeans did it to represent the 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 tools for pagan Germans. It continued to be used throughout Europe all the way into the 19th century, primarily by working- and lower-class households that hung trees from rafters due to lack of space. But now, Christmas trees are shaped with the tip pointing to heaven, and some think an upside-down Christmas tree is disrespectful or sacrilegious.

The trees have also been increasingly used by retailers for in-store displays so more ornaments can be displayed at eye level to the buying public. Plus, it leaves more floor space to hold extra stock of decorations or an additional holiday display.

Upside Down Christmas Trees Today

The upside-down Christmas trees have caught on. They are now being sold not just as a novelty piece, but as an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree. While you may not go for this idea in a big way, you might see a few of the benefits. If you have little children, you can keep most of the ornaments away from little hands. Cats and dogs won't be racing around and knocking decorations off the base of your upside-down Christmas tree. And just think how many more packages you'll be able to pile under the tree.

How to Decorate

To hang an upside-down Christmas tree from the ceiling, either loop a hanging wire around the trunk 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. Old-fashioned tinsel is ideal because it's practically weightless and adds lots of sparkle.

Choose ornaments that are both shatterproof (there's a greater chance they might fall off the inverted branches) and have more "oomph" to them. Because the tree is upside-down, the inverted branches mean that ornaments are more visible. 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.