Talk:O Tannenbaum

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Shouldn't this be O Tannenbaum without the h?

Since no one has responded to this question, and a search on Google reveals O Tannenbaum to be the more accurate title, I am moving this. Euphoria 23:57, 4 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What about adding the persiflage of "Oh Tannenbaum" to this article: "Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum,/die Oma hängt am Gartenzaun./Der Opa ruft die Feuerwehr,/die Oma ruft: 'Ich kann nicht mehr.'/Oh Tannenbaum, oh Tannenbaum,/die Oma hängt am Gartenzaun."

Modified German version[edit]

Even though I thought that the word "treu" (trusting) in "Wie treu sind deine Blätter!" might add some new meaning to the song, I think the original version reads: Wie grün sind deine Blätter! (grün meaning green) I have modified the song accordingly --Ghormax 13:37, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Um, my German isn't great but, I think treu is not so much "trusting" as "trustworthy" (cognate to "true" in the sense of "loyal, faithful"). I remember some of my Italian friends being amused by the feminine form, treue, which souds almost exactly like the Italian word troia, which (in a sexual context) means just the opposite.
So treu is appropriate; the idea is that the fir's needles do not desert us in Winter, unlike the leaves of deciduous trees. And in any case the first Google hit has treu. So I'm changing it back. --Trovatore 07:29, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I didn't notice you were German -- obviously you knew what treu meant; maybe not so much what "trusting" meant. Anyway here's a source with the treu lyric: . Do you have a source for the grün lyric? --Trovatore 07:34, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Here is a link explaining (in German) that "treu" is the original version, but "grün" became increasingly popular after the 19th century. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 16:53, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't we be using the original treu in the main article? It is the original according to the article Angr points to and it also seems to be the most popular on Google: 3950 hits at the time of writing against 1580 for the grün version. Cybaea (talk) 10:11, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

I changed "grün" to "treu" for three reasons: 1) It is the original. The first strophe was a tragical love song by Joachim Zarnack (1819), so he compared his girlfriends faithlessness with this faithful tree. 5 years later Ernst Anschütz added 2 more strophes. Now this song became popular. 2) Ernst Anschütz didnt change the word "treu" to "green". There is a reason for: If you read the last strophe, the tree shall teach us "Hoffnung" (Hope), "Beständigkeit" (Constancy), "Mut" (Spirit) and "Kraft" (Power) at any time. This is not done by a "green" leave, but by faithfulness. 3) The third reason is the rhyme: There would be a repetition if "grün" would be right, because in the next sentence the tree "grünt" again. But this is an aestethical problem. Many Germans are using "grün", because "treu" is not so simple to understand... But nevertheless I think we should do something for the education :-) ! --- Clarence Tinkerbell 23 December 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:09, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure if 'O Tannenbaum' should be translated as 'O Christmas Tree' I don't think that the song is really a christmas carol/song.. It surely has more to do with the festival of the Sonnenwende and everlasting life, a life that continues through the dark days of winter. I would suggest that 'O Evergreen' is a better translation. --IsarSteve (talk) 02:08, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Of course there are many connections between Christmas and other kinds of heathen celebrations. The combination was a neccessary part of the Christianization. But I think "Christmas Tree" is not a bad translation, because nobody would sing this song in front of a normal fir tree, but of course in front of a beautiful decorated Christmas tree. --- Clarence Tinkerbell 23 December 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:16, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

a literal translation:: ??

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum O Evergreen, o Evergreen

Wie treu sind deine Blätter With your faithfull foliage

Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit You’re not only green in summer

Nein auch im Winter wenn es schneit But also in winter when it snows

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum O Evergreen, o Evergreen

Wie treu sind deine Blätter With your faithfull foliage

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum O Evergreen, o Evergreen

Dein Kleid will mich was lehren Your cover(foliage) can teach me something

Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit Hope and Consistency

Gibt Mut und Kraft zu jeder Zeit Give Courage and Fortitude all year round

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum O Evergreen, o Evergreen

Dein Kleid will mich was lehren Your cover(foliage) can teach me something

--IsarSteve (talk) 09:10, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Very nice ;-)! Here you can see, that "not only green..." is the explanation for the "faithful". It would make no sense to use "green". But anyway: Marry Christmas to all of you! --- Clarence Tinkerbell 24 December 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

I have read the discussion, i do acknowledge the facts stated, but as a German, I do suggest to at least add a paragraph about the common version, using "grün". Most people sing the "grün"-version, so even though it is not the original, i think one should mention it. i will do so right after writing this comment on the discussion page, i hope it wont get reverted. (talk) 20:38, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

All the modern versions I can find have "nicht" and not "schon" in the second stanza and (more importantly) "Weihnachtszeit" instead of "Winterzeit." Which is the original? Chaifilius (talk) 18:12, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

I have found a book from the early twentieth century that substantiates each of these versions (ironically, on the same publisher in the same year): "Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit" (German Poems for Memorizing, Oscar Carl Burkhard, Henry Holt, 1917) "Wie oft hat schon zur Winterzeit" (Leitfaden der deutschen Sprache, W. H. Gohdes & E. R. Dodge, Henry Holt, 1917) Both of these are available via Google Books. I'll make an appropriate edit to the main document, but I'm still curious if anyone knows the original. Chaifilius (talk) 21:26, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I have looked at the original, which you can find here on page 3, and as you see the original manuscript reads TREU, NICHT and WEIHNACHTSZEIT. If someone with a little more wikipedia skills would be kind enough to correct the article accordingly... Best regards B.M. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:30, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Another translation[edit]

This is the version I learnt in school: Scott Gall 01:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging.
Not only green in summer's heat
But also winter's snow and sleet,
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With faithful leaves unchanging.

Yeah, this seems to be the only Christmas carol without a standard English translation. I've seen or heard variant lyrics like "How lovely are your branches", "Thy leaves are so unchanging", "Not only green when summer's here/But also green throughout the year", " in summer's glow/ winter's snow", and almost certainly a few more; I've probably even heard the same set of lyrics in both modern and Old English (different pronouns). B7T (talk) 13:21, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Cantonese Version?[edit]

English isn't the only language this has been translated to. In Cantonese (Hong Kong), the song is Tsung Man Tse, and has some unique lyrics that are somewhat unlike any of the other standard versions - including referring to the plastic needles. I don't have a full translation, as I never learned the full song, but this would be a relevant addition if anybody could find a legitimate source (given Wiki's rules on primary research, eh?). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:09, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Lady Gaga song[edit]

"Christmas Tree (song)" redirects here, although Lady Gaga has a song of the exact same name. I added a note to the beginning of the page in case someone searching for her song accidentally ends up here. (talk) 05:23, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

My Woman Done Me Wrong[edit]

I have never before seen the second and third verses as given on this page. I have, however, seen the first verse accompanied by three subsequent verses in which the constancy of the evergreen is sarcastically contrasted to the fickleness of the narrator's former lover:

O Mägdelein, O Mägdelein / Wie falsch ist dein' Gemüte! / Du schwurst mir treu in meinem Glück; / Nun arm ich bin, gehst du zurück! (O Madeline, O Madeline, how false is your warmth! You swore me troth when my luck was good; now that I'm poor, you go away again!)

Die Nachtigall, die Nachtigall / Nahmst du dir zum Exempel: / Sie bleibt solang, der Sommer lacht; / Im Herbst sie sich von dannen macht. (The nightingale, the nightingale, you took as your example: It stays as long as summer laughs [sic]; in autumn, it takes off.)

Der Bach im Tal, der Bach im Tal / Ist deiner Falschheits Spiegel: / Er strömt allein, wenn Regen fließt; / Beim Dürr er bald den Quell verschließt. (The valley brook, the valley brook is a mirror to your falsehood: It flows only when the rain falls; in a drought, it quickly exhausts its source.)

According to this source (in German), the above version, by August Zarnack, was written in 1820, antedating Anschütz's holiday carol by four years. --Geenius at Wrok (talk) 04:40, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Is this line really unchallenged?[edit]

During the Third Reich "O Tannenbaum" was promoted by the Nazis as part of their program to remove the more Christian parts of Christmas.[1]

I know there's some German source for it. But I'm not fluent in German and therefore cannot check this source, but it sounds like a very contentious claim. Canadianism (talk) 17:45, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I took out this section as unverifiable:
"During the Third Reich "O Tannenbaum" was promoted by the Nazis as part of their program to remove the more Christian parts of Christmas.[1]"
I can't find the source, but in any case, I also don't think it's true: the Nazis were not anti-Christian. In 1939, the Nazis persecuted non-Christians (especially Jews and atheists). If the Nazis did promote the song, it would have been to promote German culture, not to remove Christian elements . I suspect that the source has been misrepresented. If I am in error, and the text is appropriate to be restored please post the text of the original German so that the meaning can be verified. Trishm (talk) 11:39, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
The source is easy enough to find ( will get you there), and it's in English. It mentions "O Tannenbaum" briefly, so I'm not sure that amounts to "promoting […] as part of their program to remove the more Christian parts of Christmas". In short, this idea seems barely supported by the source and its deletion justified. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 14:09, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
I've always wondered if this song isn't a remnant of pre-Christian nature-worship. LADave (talk) 18:06, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
It quite sure is. But not the song as such, but the Christmas tree! See there for it's origin. --PaterMcFly talk contribs 20:33, 29 August 2010 (UTC)


Wouldn't it be more accurate to list "O Tannenbaum" and all the songs listed in this section as a contrafactum of the original Latin-language song Lauriger Horatius? Theoretically, there should be an article (or even stub) about Lauriger Horatius, which lists all these songs. --Brendanmccabe (talk) 00:30, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

I think the origin of the melody is a 16th-century German folktune; the student song "Lauriger Horatius", from the end of the 18th century, is just one of its many uses. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:56, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

"Christmas carol"[edit]

I can imagine that there are English versions "O Christmas tree" (by whom?), but it is misleading to say that the German song is "a Christmas carol". It is an early 19th century song about how the fir tree is evergreen, based on an older folk song. It had nothing to do with Christmas when it was written, because at the time Christmas trees were an entirely local and eccentric custom limited to the Rhineland. Christmas trees only became the fashion in the second half of the 19th century, and the song must somehow have come to be associated with Christmas during that time. --dab (𒁳) 21:30, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

English versions[edit]

The earliest English version I could find so far is this 1913 reference, which has "O Evergreen, O Evergreen, how are thy leaves so verdant?". I.e. "Tannenbaum" is here not rendered "Christmas tree", although the text clearly states the song is "addressed to the Christmas fir-tree".

The translation "O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, your branches green delight us" seems to be much younger, perhaps dating to the 1970s. --dab (𒁳) 20:56, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

  1. ^ Wilhelm Beilstein, "Wie wir Weihnachten feiern," N.S.-Briefe, December 1939, pp. 327–328. The section is reprinted from Beilstein's Lichtfeier. Sinn, Geschichte, Brauch und Feier der deutschen Weihnacht (Munich: Deutscher Volksverlag, 1939).