History of the Christmas Tree

Part I

We have been pondering the origin of the Christmas tree, and no one can really say for certain it’s exact history or origin. There are many speculative theories.

Happy Holidays!

After much research, we have come to the conclusion that you should pick the one that you like the best.

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants, trees and shrubs that remained green all year round, had special meaning for people in winter. Ancient peoples hung branches over their doors and windows. Some thought to drive off evil spirits and illness. In the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night, falls on December 21st or 22nd and is referred to as the winter solstice. Ancients believed the sun was a god and that he had grown weak or sick. Decorations of evergreen reminded them that the sun god would get well and all would turn green again with the return of spring and summer.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra. He had the head of a hawk and wore the sign of the blazing sun in his crown. During the solstice, Egyptians would fill their homes with green palm rushes, which for them celebrated the triumph of life over death as Ra recovered from illness.

Early Romans celebrated the solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. It represented the coming of spring and all that would be green and fruitful once again.

The mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, decorated with evergreen symbolizing everlasting life.

The Vikings thought evergreens were a special plant of the sun god Balder.

 In the 16th Century devout Christians brought Christmas trees into their homes. It is believed that the 16th-century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, first added lighted candles to the tree. He was walking home one evening and was awed by the twinkling of the stars and tried to emulate the scene for his family.

Some people believe that the Christmas tree as we know it today was first used in the 7th Century, and was invented by St. Boniface. There are different legends regarding how St. Boniface invented the Christmas tree. Some claim he used the triangular shape of the fir tree to symbolize the Holy Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to non-believers, and that these new converts began to worship the tree as a Christian symbol. Another version of this legend claims that St. Boniface chopped down an oak tree worshiped by pagans, and used a fir tree growing in the roots of the oak as a symbol of Jesus.

History is always an interesting subject and we will continue to post different things we find about the Christmas tree. We look forward to any comments or thoughts.