Re: OT Christmas tree
Someone emailed me off list asking about Martin Luther and the Christmas
Thought maybe others would be interested as well.
Egyptians, in celebrating the winter solstice....the shortest day of the
year....brought green date palms into their homes as a symbol of "life
triumphant over death". The Vikings considered the evergreen a symbol and
reminder that the darkness and cold of winter would end and the green of
spring would return.
The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a fest called Saturnalia in
honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with
greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity,
pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life.
The fir tree has a long association with Christianity....it began in Germany
almost a 1000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to
Christianity, came across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In
anger, St Boniface cut down the oak tree..where upon a young fir tree sprung
up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the
Christian faith, resurection, calling it the Tree of Life.
Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees
inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the
Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Church, began the tradition of
decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the
year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the
beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow,
shimmered in the moonlight. The stars were shining through the branches of
the trees giving the impression of twinkling lights. Luther was so inspired
by the beauty of the sight that he cut down a small evergreen and brought it
home..... so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it
with candles, which he lighted to recreate the stars in honor of Christ's
birth. Other early decorations included nuts and apples, symbolizing Adam
In some areas evergreen trees were scarce so the families would build a
Christmas pyramids or houses, simple wooden structures which they decorated
with branches, apples and candles.
The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with
Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to
Pennsylvania and Ohio. At the time many (mostly the puritans) still
considered the tree to be a symbol of pagans and it wasn't until the late
1800's that Americans began accepting the Christmas tree.
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