Origins of ordinary things: The Christmas tree

During this time of year, pine trees are cut down and decorated by Christians around the world in commemoration of the birth of Christ. But the Christmas tree, just like Christmas, has pagan origins.

During this time of year, pine trees are cut down and decorated by Christians around the world in commemoration of the birth of Christ. But the Christmas tree, just like Christmas, has pagan origins.

According to History a knowledge sharing platform, for thousands of years, ancient people believed that the sun was a god. Whenever the sun stopped shining and winter came, they believed that the sun was unwell. Thus, they hung evergreen boughs on their windows and doors to give them hope that the sun would become strong and shine again.

It is not clear who exactly started the traditional of hanging boughs during the winter season. However, according to Why Christmas, a Christmas information website, it most likely started in Northern Europe 1000 years ago. During that time, Christmas trees were hung from chandeliers and lighting hooks. In other parts of Europe, trees were planted in pots with the hope that they would flower during winter time.

Early Christians were opposed to the pagan practice. For instance, according to Christianity Today, a religious platform, second century theologian Tertullian said that only the people for whom hell was in the cards were to participate in the practice.

Poor attitude towards the winter tree started to change when tales of circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ began to spread. The legend was that when Christ was born, all the trees in the world, by some sort of miracle, shook off their ice and snow and produced new shoots of green. This happened around the Middle Ages.

Furthermore, Christian missionaries who were spreading the gospel took a lenient approach of phasing out pagan practices. Instead of getting rid of some of the observances, they sanctified them. This is according to Christianity Today.

Still, some Christians resisted. According to All About History, an online knowledge sharing platform, the New England puritans recognised Christmas to be sacred and they didn’t want it to be associated with pagan practices.

As the use of Christmas tree started to have Christian inclination, the Christmas tree was decorated with apples which were a representation of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil that is talked about in Genesis the first book of the Bible. According to Wikipedia, an Angel or a Star were also placed on top of the tree to represent angel Gabriel or the star the led the shepherds to Bethlehem.

The Christmas tree tradition is said to have been started by Germans of the 16th century who, according to History, would put decorated trees in their homes. The uptake of the tradition was so slow that it was only during the 19th century that Americans began to put up Christmas trees.

Now Christmas trees, both organic and synthetic, can be found everywhere during Christmas time. Although they are fun to look at, they have no connection to the birth of Christ. In essence, they are nothing more than an afterthought, a trend statement.

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