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Re: OT Christmas tree


Someone emailed me off list asking about Martin Luther and the Christmas 
tree.  
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 
forthcoming spring. 
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 
and Eve.  
 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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