December 24, 2013

FROM THE ARCHIVES: HOW ARE THY LEAVES SO VERDANT?:


Tracing the Christmas tree's roots
(Religion News Service, December 21, 2004)

The Christmas tree remains a powerful symbol for many of us, a mandala of sorts, evoking emotions that can be traced through thousands of years of humankind and across many faiths.

"Christmas trees probably add more to mark the period of 'peace on Earth, goodwill toward men' than any other product of the soil," says Ann Kirk-Davis, whose family has been raising and selling Christmas trees for generations. "This enduring tree symbol -- which is even older than Christianity and not exclusive to any one religion -- remains a firmly established part of our holiday customs, engaging not only our senses of sight, touch and smell, but also our sense of tradition."

The Christmas tree has evolved from centuries-old traditions.

Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Chinese and other cultures used evergreens to mark the winter solstice, celebrate the end of the harvest year and symbolize the spirit of renewal. Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life.

In the 7th century in Germany, St. Boniface used the triangular shape of the tree to symbolize the Holy Trinity. In the Middle Ages, evergreens were decorated with red apples -- the paradise tree -- to mark the pagan festival of Adam and Eve.

In Riga, Latvia, in 1510, Martin Luther, inspired by the stars shimmering through the trees as he walked through the woods one wintry night, cut down a small tree, took it home and decorated it with candles for his children.

[originally posted: 2004-12-23]


Posted by at December 24, 2013 11:31 PM
  

Hey! What happened to the St. Boniface oak tree story? The way I heard it, St Boniface chopped down an oak tree in some sort of druidic grove as a symbolic overthrow of paganism, and redirected the Germans to revere the Tannenbaum as a token of the changelessness of God.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 23, 2004 5:49 PM

Hey! What happened to the St. Boniface oak tree story? The way I heard it, St Boniface chopped down an oak tree in some sort of druidic grove as a symbolic overthrow of paganism, and redirected the Germans to revere the Tannenbaum as a token of the changelessness of God.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 23, 2004 5:54 PM

Didn't the prophet Jeremiah condemn Christmas trees (Jeremiah 10:1-5)?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at December 23, 2004 11:37 PM

Joseph, Jeremiah said "don't be afraid of them." Also, I think he was writing about statues carved from trees.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 24, 2004 12:59 AM

Well, the Luther angle is obviously wrong. Luther spent the winter of 1510-11 in Rome, not Riga, and he didn't have any children at the time, which was 7 years before he nailed the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg and 15 years before he married Katie von Bora.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at December 24, 2004 2:23 AM

Thanks Random, I too thought those details a bit off and loomked it up this AM and found out the same info as you.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 24, 2004 11:47 AM

Carrying on the tradition of my pagan and Lutheran German Tribesmen , I invite all of you to look at my tree.

http://www.extremewisdom.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=934

Posted by: Bruno at December 24, 2007 6:58 PM
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