Many Christmas traditions are older than some celebrants might think. The tradition of lighting up a Christmas tree, for example, dates back to the days before Christmas lights.
Before electric-powered twinkle lights were invented and even before electricity was discovered, people used actual candles to adorn the Christmas tree. As one can imagine, having an open flame next to a dried-out tree was risky, so it was customary to keep a bucket of water next to the tree in the case of fire. As if fire wasn’t enough, the tinsel used to decorate trees was made from strips of silver and even lead — something that is now known to be a health hazard to adults and children alike. Although we’ve come a long way since candles and lead, even now trees that are overly dry and decorated with lights that have frayed wires can just as easily lead to fires. Plus, plastic tinsel can be a choking hazard for children and pets. One Christmas staple that has lost its status as a safety hazard is the poinsettia plant. It has long been thought that poinsettias are poisonous to people and animals. While there is some toxicity to the plant, it would require the ingestion of hundreds of leaves to get a toxic dose of a plant’s poison.