Tradition of Trains Around the Christmas Tree

by Melinda

Christmas and trains go together like bread and butter; chocolate and peanut butter; Santa and flying reindeer.  Yup.  A train around the Christmas tree is a fun tradition!

To the best of my knowledge, I would say this tradition dates back to the early 20th century.  Which means it’s almost a 100-year old tradition.  From what I’ve read, trains started circling around Christmas trees sometime in the 1920’s.


The 2-minute Christmas train video above is from the early 21st century. (Smile)  It’s what we had around our tree last year.  I had a lot of fun creating that simple scene.  And my husband assembled the train station, did all the wiring, lighting, and train maintenance.    Fortunately this is a hobby that both of us enjoy a great deal.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  If you read the story,   “A Child’s Christmas” you’ll see that trains are a big part of my childhood Christmas memories.  But back then it was an HO scale train set.

And HO doesn’t work the best around a Christmas tree in my opinion.  Specifically it doesn’t work well on carpet, and most living rooms have carpeting. 


Why doesn’t HO-scale work well?  The track is too narrow and the trains are too lightweight.  Which means you’ll have to endure lot of derailments unless you place it on a plywood platform of some kind.  Another drawback for some people is that the smaller scale isn’t as child-friendly. 

So if you’re considering buying a Christmas train set for your kids this year to put around your tree – and I certainly hope you are – then I recommend you start by looking at O-scale.  This is the same scale as Lionel trains.  And you can even purchase trains sets with a Christmas theme.  Many train sets with a Christmas theme are G-scale, one size larger than “O” and good for toddlers.

A few years ago my husband and I resurrected our childhoods and mutual love for trains.  We bought a Rail King O-scale train set by MTHThat’s what you see in the video above.  And the “RealTrax” is placed directly on the carpet.  Works flawlessly!

By the way, that was our very first foray into model railroading.  We wanted to start with simple scenery … partly to see how much we like creating it.  And it was a lot of fun.

This year we’re in the process of creating a more elaborate scene and track layout for our Christmas tree.  I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, start shopping for a Christmas train set for your tree – whether you have children or not!  Make time to enjoy a marvelous Christmas tradition with O-scale trains or G-scale trains.

P.S. A portion of all proceeds from this site are donated to charity; more detail on the About page.  Thank you.

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