September 23, 2023

Don’t panic if you start to notice trees hanging from the ceiling by their trunks, you’re not in The Upside Down. You’re just noticing a Christmas tree trend that has blown up in the last few years: the upside down Christmas tree. The name is pretty self explanatory: the tree is placed with its trunk towards the ceiling and the point (where the tree-topper usually goes) facing the ground. If you have any doubts about how cool the style actually is, just check out Ariana Grande’s Instagram.

Given how trendy the upside down tree is, you might think that it’s a more recent way of fashioning a traditional Christmas tree. But inverted trees have actually been around for centuries. If you look into any popular, recognizably Christmas tradition, like kissing under the mistletoe or tasting candy canes, you will see a complicated story behind how customs get their meanings. And the upside down Christmas tree meaning is no exception!

Inverted Christmas Tree Origins

The symbol of the upside down tree may have begun in 7th century. Folklore around the topic credits a Benedictine monk named Boniface. According to the legend, Boniface saw a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree, and in response he cut down the tree and in its place grew a fir. Then, Boniface cut down the fir and turned it upside down, using its triangular shape as a way of explaining the Holy Trinity to the pagans.

But it was southern Poland where the trend really thrived. In a tradition called podĹ‚azniczek, Polish people used “fruit, nuts, sweets wrapped in shiny paper, straw, ribbons, gold-painted pine cones” to decorate a spruce hanging upside down from the ceiling in the center of the room, according to The Spruce.

As Bernd Brunner explains in his book Inventing Christmas, it was often the poorer families of the 19th century that hung their Christmas trees from the rafters. As Brunner writes, “In the small common rooms of the lower classes, there was simply no space.”

Brunner also theorizes that we can blame the advent of plastered ceilings for why we no longer see hanging trees. As Brunner explains, without rafters, “the most they could bear was perhaps an Advent wreath or a wooden frame with candles.”

Modern Day Inverted Christmas Tree

In recent years, these topsy-turvy trees have made a comeback, particularly in department stores and malls. Besides just being a striking design choice, it’s actually pretty beneficial. Since it’s attached to the ceiling, this way of hanging clears up more floor space for merchandise. Also, more ornaments are displayed on eye-level.

If you’re think an upside down tree and more floor space would look good in your home this holiday, there are plenty of inverted Christmas trees online to check out. Either way, these upside down trees are here to stay. 

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