Saturday, 20 January 2018

Habits Of Really Healthy Women.

There are certain determinants of health that are largely, if not entirely, out of your control. Your genetic makeup and biology have major bearing on your overall well being, as do any number of socioeconomic factors, and your access to high-quality care.f you have an inherited health condition, and you are struggling to earn a living wage, your path to health is going to be rockier than that of someone who doesn't and isn't.
There are individual behaviors that have been shown in many cases definitively to help improve and maintain women's health. Habits that have a direct and measurable impact on women's bodies and minds, and that healthy women therefore embrace.

Healthy women cultivate friendships:
Women with breast cancer who felt socially isolated were more likely to die from the disease than those with closer ties. Women with advanced ovarian cancer who had lots of social support had significantly lower levels of a key protein linked to more aggressive types of the disease.

They have a screening plan..:
Who should get screened for what, and when, is an inexact science, and leading medical organizations disagree on the standards. When it comes to mammography for women with typical breast cancer risk profiles, for example, the American Cancer Society recommends screens starting at age 40.
Healthy women read up on their options and make informed decisions about what's right for them with (and this is key) a team of qualified providers they've carefully assembled, and in whom they trust.

.. And they become experts on their own bodies:
No nurse or doctor can ever know your body as well as you do, which is why healthy women tune in to theirs and speak up when something seems off. They do monthly self-breast exams, track their menstrual cycles, note where their moles are (and if they've changed) and pay attention to any unusual symptoms.Not only is this intimate knowledge of their body a way for women to revel in its strength and awesomeness, it ensures they're active participants in their own health.

They take medication seriously:
Research suggests that when it comes to medication adherence, women are worse than men.Healthy women understand that not being vigilant with medication has the potential to compound serious problems, and they also understand that taking medication carries with it risks and benefits.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Benefits of Green Tea.


Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet.
It is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body.
These include improved brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other impressive benefits.
          Green Tea Contains Bio active Compounds That Improve Health
Green tea is more than just liquid.
Many of the plant compounds in the tea leaves do make it into the final drink, which contains large amounts of important nutrients.
Tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
Green tea is about 30 percent polyphenols by weight, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits.
hese substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.
EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) is one of the most powerful compounds in green tea. It has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties.
Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health.
Try to choose a higher quality brand of green tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive amounts of fluoride.
Compounds in Green Tea Can Improve Brain Function and Make You Smarter
Green tea does more than just keep you awake, it can also make you smarter.
The key active ingredient is caffeine, which is a known stimulant.
It doesn't contain as much as coffee, but enough to produce a response without causing the "jittery" effects associated with too much caffeine.
What caffeine does in the brain is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This way, it actually increases the firing of neurons and the concentration of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
Caffeine has been intensively studied before and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory.
However, green tea contains more than just caffeine. It also has the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.
      Green Tea Increases Fat Burning and Improves Physical Performance
If you look at the ingredients list for any fat burning supplement, chances are that green tea will be on there.
This is because green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials.
In one study in 10 healthy men, green tea increased energy expenditure by 4%.
Another study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.
Caffeine itself has also been shown to improve physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues and making them available for use as energy.
In two separate review studies, caffeine has been shown to increase physical performance by 11-12%, on average.
   Antioxidants in Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Some Types of Cancer
Cancer is caused by uncontrolled growth of cells. It is one of the world's leading causes of death.
It is known that oxidative damage contributes to the development of cancer and that antioxidants may have a protective effect.
Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants.
Many observational studies have shown that green tea drinkers are less likely to develop several types of cancer. However, more high-quality research is needed to confirm these effects.
It is important to keep in mind that it may be a bad idea to put milk in your tea, because some studies suggest it reduces the antioxidant value.
Green Tea Can Kill Bacteria, Which Improves Dental Health and Lowers Your   Risk of Infection.
The catechins in green tea also have other biological effects.
Some studies show that they can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections.
Streptococcus mutans is the primary harmful bacteria in the mouth. It causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay.
Studies show that the catechins in green tea can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans. Green tea consumption is associated with improved dental health and a lower risk of caries.
                     Green Tea May Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 400 million people worldwide.
This disease involves having elevated blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
      Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight and Lower Your Risk of Obesity
Given that green tea can boost the metabolic rate in the short term, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
One of these studies was a 12-week randomized controlled trial in 240 men and women. In this study, the green tea group had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and belly fat.
                              http://www.kaamkhoj.co.in/

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Natural Skin Care.

Natural skin care uses topical creams and lotions made of ingredients available in nature. Much of the recent literature reviews plant-derived ingredients, which may include herbsrootsflowers and essential oils, but natural substances in skin care products include animal-derived products such as beeswax, and minerals. These substances may be combined with various carrier agents, preservativessurfactantshumectants and emulsifiers.
There are no legal definitions in the U.S. for advertising terms "natural" or "organic" when applied to personal care products. Consumers often express a preference for skin products with organic and natural ingredients. The personal skin care market based on natural products has shown strong growth. Clinical and laboratory studies have identified activities in many natural ingredients that have potential beneficial activities for personal skin care,but there is a shortage of convincing evidence for natural product efficacy in medical problems.
Some natural products and therapies may be harmful, either to the skin or systemically. People prone to allergies should pay careful attention to what they use on their skin. Dermatologists may feel that there is enough scientific evidence to assist in the selection or avoidance of particular natural ingredients.

Many countries require that the ingredient composition of skin care products is listed on the product, using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) conventions. Ingredients are listed in the order of their percentage within the product; natural ingredients are listed in Latin and synthetic ingredients are listed by technical name. "The U.S. government has documented more than 10,500 ingredients in cosmetic products, but only a small percentage of those chemicals have been tested for safety. Of those that have been tested, some have been identified as carcinogens (causes cancer), teratogens (causes birth defects), and reproductive toxicants (damages the ability to reproduce)."
The FDA surveyed 1,687 consumers ages 14 and older in 1994 about their use of cosmetics. Nearly half of these consumers felt that a product claiming to be "natural" should contain all natural ingredients. However, although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated within its certain requirements within its specific area of regulation for organic products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize a definition for natural products. Accordingly, there are no legal definitions in the U.S. for the advertising terms "natural" or "organic" in personal care products. The FDA prohibits certain ingredients in cosmetics.
Some organic products which are designated organic may be intensely modified, sometimes considerably more so than conventional products.

Plant extracts and herbs have been used by many cultures as cosmetics and perfumes since ancient times.
Research is scientifically assessing natural products, selected based on experience in the ancient era. Validated use of these materials and products awaits further assessment.

There are significant reservations about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) including a "shortage of evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of CAM" for skin problems. However, patients express a desire to utilize natural ingredients as treatment. A literature search found a growing prevalence of CAM use for skin conditions. A number of textbooks address CAM perspectives of skin care. The purpose of this section is to review botanical compounds in skin care; a broader review the history and theory behind other CAM modalities such as psychocutaneous therapies, acupuncture and homeopathy can be found in recent reviews.

Ayurveda

Ayurvedic skin care is derived from medicinal practices that began over 5,000 years ago in India. Ayurvedic medicine and healing practices are based on Indian philosophical, psychological, conventional, and medicinal understandings. Most of the ayurvedic skin care products contain the following herbs—aloe vera, almond, avocado, carrot, castor, clay, cocoa, coconut oil, cornmeal, cucumber, cutch tree, emu oil, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, grape seed oil, ground almond and walnut shell, horse chestnut, witch hazel and honey.
Ayurvedic approaches have been used in molluscum contagiosumlymphatic filariasisvitiligo and lichen planus.
Phyllanthus emblica (amla, Indian gooseberry) has been used in ayurvedic medicine. Standardized extracts of Phyllanthus emblica have a long-lasting and broad-spectrum antioxidant activity. This may be suitable for use in anti-aging, sunscreen and general purpose skin care products.

Cosmeceuticals are topically-applied, combination products that bring together cosmetics and "biologically active ingredients". Products which are similar in perceived benefits but ingested orally are known as nutricosmetics. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act "does not recognize any such category as "cosmeceuticals". A product can be a drug, a cosmetic, or a combination of both, but the term "cosmeceutical" has no meaning under the law". Drugs are subject to an intensive review and approval process by FDA. Cosmetics, and these related products, although regulated, are not approved by FDA prior to sale.

Cautions

Some alternative and natural products and therapies may be harmful, either to the skin or systemically.
The FDA recommends understanding the ingredient label and says "There is no list of ingredients that can be guaranteed not to cause allergic reactions, so consumers who are prone to allergies should pay careful attention to what they use on their skin", further warning that "[t]here is no basis in fact or scientific legitimacy to the notion that products containing natural ingredients are good for the skin". Food preservatives are commonly used to preserve the safety and efficacy in these products. Alternative remedies may increase the prevalence of eczema. Bhuchar recommends that "ingestible substances including most homeopathic, Ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese medicine herbal formulations that are not US FDA regulated should be viewed with caution as they may cause severe adverse effects" such as arsenic poisoning and liver failure."
Given the shortage of evidence for natural skin care efficacy, if applied it may often need to be used in combination with conventional treatment, rather than independently.
According to Bhuchar, there is a consensus in the literature that dermatologists need more information about CAM. Wu advises that "dermatologists should be aware of what patients may be using and be able to advise them about the efficacy of these ingredients or the potential for adverse effects". Many patients fail to inform their physicians about their use of herbal ingredients. 

http://www.kaamkhoj.co.in/

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Digital India.

"The most fundamental debate for our youth is the choice between Android, iOS or                                                                            Windows"                                                                               PM Modi has often time and again laid emphasis on using technology to overcome issues ranging from farming to governance. The Digital India Group on MyGov is a significant step towards that goal.
It’s one of the fastest growing groups on the MyGov site with 37,590 members and is open to members who preferences are Digital Technologies which include Cloud Computing and Mobile Applications. The aim of the group is to
“Come out with innovative ideas and practical solutions to realise Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a digital India.”
All you have to do to get started is to register on the site, pick a group of your liking and choose a task listed on the group!


Comments on the group page include-
  1. The Indian Farmer should benefit from the IT sector. Linking of Soil record, with Farm Output and selling price in comparison with world prices. If data on seeds sowed can be got, a pattern on output can be realized.
  2. Now India needs up gradation of government staff to technical one. Every record must be in database to enhance performance, security, maintenance.
  3. Every School must have a central server that will connected to central cloud of containing all sorts of E Training material ( both for teachers as well as students section wise ) All students above 6th should be give tablets like Aakash but more powerful( costing around 3000 ) with which they will connect to their school server freely. All e-Material should be created in regional language as well as English. Do not give subsidy to 100% tab but give to only those who can’t afford.
  4. Digitization of services using technology is valuable for creating transparency, responsibility and quick runaround. Educating people of its value and widespread usage thereafter will ensure private sector participation for e.g. passport process developed by TCS. Government should educate people and ensure easy access to internet on mobile devices. All regional and cooperative banks must be encouraged to provide ATM services.
  5. RFID -Short for radio frequency identification, RFID is a technology similar in theory to bar code identification. Could be integrated with small electronic chip & used for individual phones for unique user Identification, Transactions made by him/her, Shopping, Tour & Travel, Hotel & Restaurant Bills, Energy, Gas, Water, Bus, Train, Air, Boating, etc. bills…One stop solution for all bills.
  6. WIFI should be freely enabled through-out India for better communication, knowledge sharing, and digitalization of our nation.
  7. E-Seva Centers in every Village as single window delivery of all government services to public.
  8. When we add more and more number of services that can be availed electronically, automatically people will get attracted to it. After achieving a certain stage, some can be made ONLY available electronically. The Kerala model of “Akshaya Kendras” is highly successful in providing a large number of services at all locations. People can go there, submit applications, which will be processed electronically and service will be made available within a fixed number of days. No bribes, no worries.
  9. Bring in the judicial system on digital platform and connect them with police department, CBI, forensic etc. so that unwanted and harassing process could be allayed.
  10. Voting rights to students through e-voting. Students go to other places for studies and at the time of election they are not able to vote due to distance. Even lots of students couldn’t vote in this election. A separate website should be launched for e-voting. If any student send request of online voting with proper documents that he/she is studying in other city, a password should be sent to him/her so he/she may vote through e-voting.
  11. The Government has already taken the right step with the ‘Indian Citizen ID Card'(ICIC) project. This central database should store all the information about every citizen, starting from DOB Cert, educational cert, Voter ID, Ration Card, DL, PAN, Passport, Gas, Electricity, Telephone consumer ID, bank account numbers, biometrics, insurance, vehicle’s registration number etc. A single digital ICIC should be given to all citizens or just a number they should memorize. That card or number should be mandatory for all starting from school admission for their kids, hospital admission, traffic check points, purchasing rail/air tickets to insurance to color tv. Every government of private body has to verify their ICIC number through a simple mobile App, where they simply enter the ICICI number and the App displays the details of the citizen. The App can also do thumb impression verification (technology is capable to do that). This will not only make like easy for the citizens, but also reduce corruption. I request the PMO to invite for full PPT presentations on this, so that we get an opportunity to share the idea in details.
    http://www.kaamkhoj.co.in/



    Tuesday, 26 December 2017

    Girl Child

              Day of the Girl Child progress report: India has moved forward in empowering girls but still lags much of the world

    Today is International Day of the Girl Child, a good day to celebrate the progress India has made in advancing the rights of half its children. Concerted efforts over the last decades are bringing results. According to the National Family and Health Survey (2015-16), teenage pregnancy has halved in the last 10 years and the percentage of girls married as children has decreased from 47% to 27%.

    More girls are going to school than ever before and more of these schools now have girls’ toilets and menstrual hygiene management facilities. Girls are being increasingly celebrated by media as adventurous, ambitious and determined. Advertisements today include women and girls on motorbikes, in sports fields and in executive boardrooms.

    The Indian Constitution provides a powerful mandate for human rights in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Duties and specific provisions for affirmative action. The government has instituted laws and policies protecting the rights of girls and women, including a ban on dowry, pre-birth sex determination and child marriage. State schemes and programmes provide bicycles, hostels, life skills and stipends.


                       

    Nationally, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao directly tackles pre-birth sex-determination and along with Sabla and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana supports the empowerment of girls. “One stop shop” centres for survivors of violence against women have been set up and are being utilised. Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram and Janani Suraksha Yojana support pregnant women, new mothers and infants.

    India is also home to robust social movements and organisations for gender equality and women’s rights. Few of us can forget the months after December 2012 when one of the largest protests on violence against women and girls resulted in the Indian Parliament amending within three months Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. This now includes largely progressive elements on preventing and responding to violence against women and girls. Stories and images of girls and boys fighting gender based discrimination and violence fill newspapers every day in every language.

    These efforts are critical. Girls in India lag behind boys in almost every indicator. They are less likely to be born, less likely to be taken to doctors when they are sick, less likely to go to private school and less likely to graduate from secondary school and university.
    Indian girls are more likely to be anaemic than Indian boys but also fare worse than the global average for anaemia. 167 out of 1,00,000 Indian girls and women die giving birth, compared to a developed country average of 14. Indian girls are more likely to be married as children than boys, more likely to be sexually abused and trafficked.
    In his first Independence Day speech in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that the development of the country lay in supporting its girls. The government’s role is crucial, necessary, not enough. Achieving equality for girls and boys, women and men, starts in small decisions and bold steps in our own lives.

    http://www.kaamkhoj.co.in/

    Monday, 25 December 2017

    Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.

                                 

                       Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: Some thoughts

    The media reported a new-born girl having been rescued from a “lavatory bowl” in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh; the mother having accidentally “delivered” the girl child into the toilet! Although the authorities are still investigating this particular case, it is a stark reminder that we Indians shamelessly continue to kill a large number of our girls either inside the mother’s womb or after their birth.


    In our Indian society, a woman has various connotations including “Durga”, “Laxmi”, “Love”, “Mother”, “Honour”, “Pride”, “Beauty” but also “Prostitution”, “Trafficking”, “Rape”, “Acid Attack”, “Harassment”, and “Slave”. For a long time, a girl child has been considered a curse in the Indian society; a social burden, for “who will carry forward the legacy of the family”; an economic burden, for “who is going to pay that hefty amount of dowry”. Although already one of the top powers in the world, the demons of ill minded societal norms still cloud over India’s present. For some reasons, we have not been collectively able to overcome these archaic norms and narrow minded thinking. For some reasons, we continue to fail our girls.

    Even though we have sufficient laws banning female foeticide, the problem has not gone away. In fact, many would argue that the problem has only become worse. This perhaps necessitates a different approach to solving this menace. We do not need families not killing a girl child because the laws say so, or because they fear being punished. We need them to not kill a girl because they want a daughter. We need them to celebrate having a baby girl. Towards this end we think that in addition to penalizing the offence, there needs to be a robust mechanism which incentivizes having a girl child in the Indian families. We offer some thoughts in this respect.


    At the core of female foeticide is the notion of our girls considered as “paraya dhan”. The logic in the minds of some Indian families is fairly simple really. All the investments on a girl child including on education, health, clothing and food would not come back as returns. In fact, these investments would need to be topped up by a substantial one-time dowry payment at the time of marriage. On the other hand, for a male child not only the investments are going to yield a net return (presumption being that the boy would take care of his parents in their old age) but the incoming dowry amount, at the time of the boy’s marriage, is also a net profit.


    To tackle this effectively, firstly, we should try and abolish dowry once and for all. We Indians have an extremely rich set of traditions and we are all proud of it. Dowry is certainly not one of them and needs to end.  Although we have legislations to deter this practise, these legislations have not been very effective. To deal with this effectively, in addition to the current laws and regulations, the idea of dowry has to be put “out of fashion”. This could be done with the help of popular media, Bollywood, and popular Indian celebrities. Good Bollywood and regional cinema on the lines of “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” should be actively encouraged with tax incentives. Additionally, some regions in India, especially parts of North-east, are shining examples in this context. These should be brought to the mainstream.

    The other aspect is to address the reliability of the notion of the male child being the future bread earner of the family. Although it is difficult to get data of how many parents in their old age are being supported by their sons and daughters, in percentage terms, it is certainly true that with changing lifestyles and rising income levels Indian families are becoming more nuclear. The dependence of parents on their sons is reducing pretty much automatically due to a variety of reasons. Although this might not be true for all families, it is certainly true of a significant number of families. Moreover, this trend is catching on. 
                  
    In this context, government intervention at the central and state levels would help. Annual tax benefits could be given to parents of a girl child. We already have higher non-taxable income slabs for females but we need to extend this benefit to the parents of the girl child. The tax rebate to females does not majorly benefit the girl’s parents as the female gets married at the prime of her career and thus her husband’s family gets the primary benefit. The income tax rebate to a girl’s parents would take care of this.

    Additionally, the government could look at the possibility of reimbursing a percentage of taxes paid by the parents of the girl child (if she survives of course) in their old age, that is, when they reach the age of 60 years. For the people living in rural areas and people with low income levels, subsidy on seeds, LPG, petrol and diesel and lower interest rates on loans from banks could also be explored, thus also contributing towards financial inclusion in the country.

    The governments at the Centre and state levels have been running campaigns to stop female foeticide and infanticide for a long while now and they are indeed commendable. But we have a long way to go before we are able to change the way our society operates. Decade long traditions and mind-sets will take ages to get altered. But we need to make a fresh and novel effort to get rid of this curse. We need to protect and actively encourage our girls so that they become the next Indira*, Arundhatti, Sania and Deepika. (please read as *Smt. Indira Gandhi , former Prime Minister; Smt. Arundhati Bhattacharya , banker; Mrs. Saina Mirza, athlete and Miss. Deepika Padukone, Bollywood celebrity).

    #A girl is nature’s beauty, saving her is our duty.



    The History of Christmas Tree.

    The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used 
    to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) 
    for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of 
    it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, 
    as it made them think of the spring to come. 
    The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples 
    at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a 
    sign of everlasting life with God.
    Nobody is really sure when Fir trees were first used as Christmas trees. It probably began about 1000 years ago in Northern Europe. Many early Christmas Trees seem to have been hung upside down from the ceiling using chains (hung from chandeliers/lighting hooks).
    Other early Christmas Trees, across many parts of northern Europe, were cherry or hawthorn plants (or a branch of the plant) that were put into pots and brought inside so they would hopefully flower at Christmas time. If you couldn't afford a real plant, people made pyramids of woods and they were decorated to look like a tree with paper, apples and candles. Sometimes they were carried around from house to house, rather than being displayed in a home.
    It's possible that the wooden pyramid trees were meant to be like Paradise Trees. These were used in medieval German Mystery or Miracle Plays that were acted out in front of Churches on Christmas Eve. In early church calendars of saints, 24th December was Adam and Eve's day. The Paradise Tree represented the Garden of Eden. It was often paraded around the town before the play started, as a way of advertising the play. The plays told Bible stories to people who could not read.
    The first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations is argued between the cities of Tallinn in Estonia and Riga in Latvia! Both claim that they had the first trees; Tallinn in 1441 and Riga in 1510. Both trees were put up by the 'Brotherhood of Blackheads' which was an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners in Livonia (what is now Estonia and Latvia).
    Little is known about either tree apart from that they were put in the town square, were danced around by the Brotherhood of Blackheads and were then set on fire. This is like the custom of the Yule Log. The word used for the 'tree' could also mean a mast or pole, tree might have been like a 'Paradise Tree' or a tree-shaped wooden candelabra rather than a 'real' tree.
    In the town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, there is a plaque which is engraved with "The First New Year's Tree in Riga in 1510", in eight languages. You can find out more about the Riga Tree from this website: www.firstchristmastree.com
    A picture from Germany in 1521 which shows a tree being paraded through the streets with a man riding a horse behind it. The man is dressed a bishop, possibly representing St. Nicholas.
    In 1584, the historian Balthasar Russow wrote about a tradition, in Riga, of a decorated fir tree in the market square where the young men “went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”. There's a record of a small tree in Breman, Germany from 1570. It is described as a tree decorated with "apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers". It was displayed in a 'guild-house' (the meeting place for a society of business men in the city).

      The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. A story is told that, one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful, that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. Some people say this is the same tree as the 'Riga' tree, but it isn't! The Riga tree originally took place a few decades earlier.
    The custom of having Christmas trees could well have travelled along the Baltic sea, from Latvia to Germany. In the 1400s and 1500s, the countries which are now Germany and Latvia were them part of two larger empires which were neighbors.
    Another story says that St. Boniface of Crediton (a village in Devon, UK) left England and traveled to Germany to preach to the pagan German tribes and convert them to Christianity. He is said to have come across a group of pagans about to sacrifice a young boy while worshipping an oak tree. In anger, and to stop the sacrifice, St. Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and, to his amazement, a young fir tree sprang up from the roots of the oak tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith and his followers decorated the tree with candles so that St. Boniface could preach to the pagans at night.
    There is another legend, from Germany, about how the Christmas Tree came into being, it goes:
    Once on a cold Christmas Eve night, a forester and his family were in their cottage gathered round the fire to keep warm. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. When the forester opened the door, he found a poor little boy standing on the door step, lost and alone. The forester welcomed him into his house and the family fed and washed him and put him to bed in the youngest sons own bed (he had to share with his brother that night!). The next morning, Christmas Morning, the family were woken up by a choir of angels, and the poor little boy had turned into Jesus, the Christ Child. The Christ Child went into the front garden of the cottage and broke a branch off a Fir tree and gave it to the family as a present to say thank you for looking after him. So ever since them, people have remembered that night by bringing a Christmas Tree into their homes!

    In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605 an unknown German wrote: "At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc."
    At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw.
    The first Christmas Trees came to Britain sometime in the 1830s. They became very popular in 1841, when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's German husband) had a Christmas Tree set up in Windsor Castle. In 1848, drawing of "The Queen's Christmas tree at Windsor Castle" was published in the Illustrated London News. The drawing was republished in Godey's Lady's Book, Philadelphia in December 1850 (but they removed the Queen's crown and Prince Albert's moustache to make it look 'American'!).
    The publication of the drawing helped Christmas Trees become popular in the UK and USA.
    In Victorian times, the tree would have been decorated with candles to represent stars. In many parts of Europe, candles are still used to decorate Christmas trees.

    Christmas Tree Lights

    There are a few different claims as to who invented popularised the first strings of 'electric' Christmas Tree lights. In 1880, the famous inventor Thomas Edison put some of his new electric light bulbs around his office. And in 1882 Edward Johnson, who was a colleague of Edison, hand-strung 80 red, white and blue bulbs together and put them on his tree in his New York apartment (there were two additional strings of 28 lights mounted from the ceiling!).
    In 1890 the Edison company published a brochure offering lighting services for Christmas. In 1900 another Edison advert offered bulbs which you could rent, along with their lighting system, for use over Christmas! There are records in a diary from 1891 where settlers in Montana used electric lights on a tree. However, most people couldn't easily use electric tree lights at this time as electricity wasn't widely installed in homes. But rich people liked to show off with lights installed just for Christmas, this would have cost about $300 per tree then, more than $2000 money today!
    Electric tree lights first because widely known in the USA in 1895 when President Grover Cleveland has the tree in the White House decorated with lights as his young daughters liked them! The tradition of the National Christmas Tree on the White House lawn started in 1923 with President Calvin Coolidge.
    The first commercially available electric string of lights, which more people could afford, were advertised in 1903 when a string of 24 lights cost $12 or you could rent lights from $1.50. This was still quite expensive, but much cheaper than $300.
    Another claim to the first widespread sale of strings of lights comes from Ralph Morris, an American telephonist. In 1908, he used telephone wire to string together small bulbs from a telephone exchange and decorated a table top tree with them. Leavitt Morris, the son of Ralph, wrote an article in 1952 for the Christian Science Monitor, about his father inventing Christmas Tree lights, as he was un-aware of the Edison lights.
    In 1885 a hospital in Chicago burned down because of candles on a Christmas Tree. In 1908 insurance companies in the USA tried to get a law made that would ban candles from being used on Christmas Trees because of the many fires they had caused. However, people still used candles to light Christmas Trees and there were more fires.
    In 1917, a fire from Christmas Tree candles in New York, gave a teenager called Albert Sadacca an idea. His family came from Spain and made novelty wicker bird cages that lit up. Albert thought of using the lights in long strings and also suggested painting the bulbs bright colors like red and green. In the following years, he and his brothers formed the NOMA Electric Company, which became a very famous name in Christmas lights (I've actually got some old NOMA lights in my Christmas decorations!)
    The most lights lit at the same time on a Christmas tree is 194,672 and was done by Kiwanis Malmedy / Haute Fagnes Belgium in Malmedy, Belgium, on 10 December 2010!
    Many towns and villages have their own Christmas Trees. One of the most famous is the tree in Trafalgar Square in London, England, which is given to the UK by Norway every year as a 'thank you' present for the help the UK gave Norway in World War II. The White House in the USA has had a big tree on the front lawn since the 1920s.
    The record for the most Christmas trees chopped down in two minutes is 27 and belongs to Erin Lavoie from the USA. She set the record on 19th December 2008 on the set of Guinness World Records: Die GroBten Weltrekorde in Germany.
    Artificial Christmas Trees really started becoming popular in the early 20th century. In the Edwardian period Christmas Trees made from colored ostrich feathers were popular at 'fashionable' parties. Around 1900 there was even a short fashion for white trees - so if you thought colored trees are a new invention they're not! Over the years artificial tress have been made from feathers, papier mâché, metal, glass, and many different types of plastic.
    The tallest artificial Christmas tree was 52m (170.6ft) high and was covered in green PVC leaves!. It was called the 'Peace Tree' and was designed by Grupo Sonae Distribuição Brasil and was displayed in Moinhos de Vento Park, Porto Alegre, Brazil from 1st December 2001 until 6th January 2002.
    In many countries, different trees are used as Christmas trees. In New Zealand a tree called the 'Pohutakawa' that has red flowers is sometimes used and in India, Banana or Mango trees are sometimes decorated.
    You can decorate an online Christmas Tree in the fun section of the site!