Events 2022

Traditional Christmas Trees

  • 26.11.2022 - 6.1.2023, National Museum of Iceland

Wooden Christmas trees are on display at the National Museum of Iceland during Christmas. The trees were popular in Icelandic homes at the beginning of the 20th century. 

The National Museum preserves all sorts of Christmas ornaments, photographs, and other artefacts to do with the holidays. Here are nine Christmas trees, the oldest dating from the early 20th century and the latest from around 1970.

Christmas trees first appeared in the Nordic Countries in the early 1800's, the tradition first taking root in Copenhagen. Around the middle of the century it was spreading to other places, but the Christmas tree was not a part of every home before 1900. First documentation of Christmas trees in Iceland is from the middle of the 19th century. They were first seen in homes of Danish merchants and Icelandic officials who had learned of this custom in Copenhagen. In the last decades of the 19th century Christmas trees caught on among the well to do and around 1900 Christmas trees and decorations were being advertised in stores.
The first Icelandic Christmas trees were often made from wood as pine did not grow wild in Iceland and the journey by sea could take a long time at this time of year so imported trees had lost a lot of their pine needles by the time they reached Iceland. Homemade trees were the most common type of Christmas tree until the mid-20th century. Living trees were imported to some degree in the 1920's but that stopped for the most part during the recession and did not start properly again until after WWII. In the 70's Icelandic pine came onto the market and answers more and more the demand for Christmas trees. Fake trees are becoming more popular as some find them easier to deal with than live trees.