The Christmas tree was first decorated with lights in the 16th century. It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to add lighted candles to the tree. He was so taken with the Christmas night sky that he wished to bring the lights of the stars into the home of his family. From this, decorating the tree with ornaments, messages and notes, and small gifts emerged in later centuries leading to our customs today.
Hanging the Christmas stocking on the hearth on Christmas Eve in the hope that it will be filled with presents the next morning is a custom that goes back about 400 years. It derived from the custom in Holland of children placing wooden shoes next to the hearth the night before the arrival of St. Nicholas. The children would fill their shoes with straw and food for St Nicholass for the donkey that carried the gifts. In exchange he would leave them a small gift such as small cakes, fruits and other gifts. Stockings were substituted for the shoes in Britain, most of Europe and in North America.
A wreath with holly, red berries and other decorations began from at least the 17th century. Holly, with its sharply pointed leaves, symbolised the thorns in Christs crown of thorns. Red berries symbolised the drops of Christs blood. A wreath at Christmas signified a home that celebrated to birth of Christ.
On Christmas morning since medieval times, church bells have been rung to announce to the world the coming of the saviour. It was customary from the 18th century to wear clothes and carry a small bell to signify the birth of Christ. The ringing of the bells was to signify the importance of the His Birth.