What does Christmas Tree represent?
The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ. Evergreens have been symbols of eternal life and rebirth since ancient times. They played a symbolic part because they stayed green and alive when other plants appeared dead and bare. They symbolized everlasting life and hope for the return of spring. Christmas tree represents the Tree of Life from which Adam and Eve ate and as a result were banished from the Garden of Eden. The Tree also stands for the eternal life of Christ.
Primitive European tribes hung evergreens above their doors to offer the wandering winter spirits shelter within their homes in hope of receiving good fortune and good health in return.
The Romans decorated their homes with the greens at the Festival of Saturnalia and at the Kalends of January, their New Year. They exchanged evergreen branches with friends as a sign of good luck.
The Druids viewed evergreens as sacred, a symbol of life itself.
Christmas Tree Legends
Many legends exist about the origin of the Christmas tree.
One is the story of Saint Boniface, an English monk who organized the Christian Church in France and Germany. One day, as he traveled about, he came upon a group of pagans gathered around a great oak tree to sacrifice a child to the god of Thor. To stop the sacrifice and save the child’s life Boniface crashed the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place grew a small fir tree. The saint told the pagan worshippers that the tiny fir was the Tree of Life and stood for the eternal life of Christ.
Another legend says that Martin Luther, a founder of the Protestant faith, was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve. He was awed by the beauty of the stars shining and glimmering between the branches of a fir tree. He was so taken by this beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and brought it home to his family. He decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.
One more legend tells of a poor woodsman who long ago met a lost and hungry child on Christmas Eve. Though very poor himself the woodsman gave the child food and shelter for the night. The woodsman woke the next morning to find a beautiful glittering tree outside his door. The hungry child was really the Christ Child in disguise. He created the tree to reward the good man for his charity.
One legend says that the origin of the Christmas tree may be the “Paradise Play”. In medieval times most people would not read and plays were used to teach the lessons of the Bible all over Europe. The Paradise Play, which showed the creation of man and the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, was performed every year on December 24th. The play was performed in winter creating a slight problem. An apple tree was needed so a substitution was made. Evergreens were hung with apples and used instead.
Some Interesting Facts about Christmas tree
According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington.
Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
The Germans made the first artificial Christmas trees out of dyed goose feathers in the 19th century and later they became popular in the United States. These “trees” were made using goose feathers that were dyed green and attached to wire branches. The wire branches were then wrapped around a central dowel rod that acted as the trunk.
Some 25–30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year, making it about a $1 billion industry. The trees are grown at almost 15,000 farms in all 50 states, though the biggest producers are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Washington.
Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882. Christmas tree lights were first mass-produced in 1890.
Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo, Norway have given a Christmas tree to the city of Westminster, London. The gift is an expression of good will and gratitude for Britain’s help to Norway during World War II.
An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the archangel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.