04 December 2007

Christmas Traditions--The Makings of a Tree

’Tis the season…to buy the gifts, to send out Christmas cards, to decorate the tree, to bake cookies with red and green sugar, to hang mistletoe and holly. How did we get into this mess?
Decorating the tree comes from a long line of winter solstice practices. The Egyptians, Romans, Druids, and Scandinavians each used evergreens in their celebrations as a symbol of triumph over life and to ward off evil spirits. During the Roman festival of Saturnalia, mistletoe, holly, and evergreens were twisted into wreaths, hung on doorways, and wrapped throughout the house. To prevent persecution, Christians decked their own halls. Eventually, the pagan meaning faded away. The thorns in mistletoe instead represented Christ’s crown and the evergreen Christ’s life.
Rumor has it that Luther brought the tree inside and, inspired during an evening stroll by the moonlight shimmering on the snow-dusted tree boughs, donned the tree with candles for his children. The first documented decorated Christmas tree as we know it, however, wasn’t until 1605, after Luther’s time. Before then, Central Europeans hung the fir tree upside down.
Stay tuned to find out how it fared in the U.S.!


Megan DiMaria said...

Oh, I just love the holidays and the beautiful decorations we enjoy. What an honor to be able to speak of the blessings that the first Christmas made possible.

A prisoner of hope,
~whose 2007 holiday is titled, "The Christmas of the 12' Tree." The first and last Christmas of the 12' tree.

Jenny said...

Another way of changing ashes for beauty--finding meaning of Christ in things once considered pagan. Reclaiming for His Glory!

Robin said...

My kids were asking about the origin of Christmas trees this week...I'd love to know even more of the details then you've offered here...

Good start, gonna have to work a bit to find out more, I suppose.