Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Tree

I am always pondering things, and wondering how they came to be and what is the point of them. Usually I look it up and never share with anyone, but today things change. LOL

The questions that were running through my mind: Why do we cut down a pine tree, put it in our living room and decorate it to celebrate Jesus' birthday? When did this start? Do most people just put up a tree because it is the "Christmas" thing to do? ( I certainly do. I have no idea why we put up a tree! We just do it!) Here is what Wikipedia had to say, in Lindsey:

-The tradition of the "Christmas Tree" originated in Germany, possibly as early as the 16th century. There are many differenent ideas and stories about how it started:
  1. Saint Boniface (no, not St. Boniface the quirky french neighboorhood of Wpg but Saint Boniface the patron saint of Germany) disrupted a pagan child sacrifice under an oak tree by flattening the tree with his fist. Then a fir tree sprouted up, and St. Boniface told the pagans the tree represented Christ. ( How random is that?)
  2. Martin Luther was walking home one night, and thought the sparking of the stars through the branches of a pine tree was delightful, so he decided to take a tree home and decorate it with candles and silver and gold tinsel. (Fire alert?!?! Any why did he have tinsel just sitting around his house?)
  3. Some guilds in the 1500's would erect fir trees in their guild halls at Christmas time and decorate it with all sorts of goodies for the guild-members children to collect on Christmas day.

- The Christmas tree was a tough sell to 17th century Christians. One priest said it was distracting from the Word of God.

- In the 18th century, it was gaining popularity in most larger towns in Germany and it was considered to be a Prodestant tradition. The Roman Catholic Church eventually "adopted" the Christmas tree because they could not prevent its use. (LOL)

-There are several people that think they brought the Christmas tree to North America. They are all dead now so I guess they thought they were the first. Anyways, the first Christmas tree was erected in the US somewhere between 1777 and 1821 apparently.

-Traditionally, the Christmas tree was erected on December 24th and taken down by January 7th. It was considered bad luck to have it up any longer than that (Oops).

-Some churches use their Christmas tree, stripped and bare, as a Cross on Easter!

-in the 60's, Aluminum christmas trees were very popular!

If you want to read the whole story, click here.

This still leaves me with unanswered questions. I feel like the article I found was avoiding my questions by talking about other things! LOL. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything bad about a tree. I just think it is a bit weird that we all do it and don't really know why other than it looks pretty and "Christmasy". (Well maybe some of you do know why, but I still don't)

According to this site, people began decorating trees with apples to represent the Paradise tree they saw in paintings in the 15th century, on December 24 to celebrate the feast day of Adam and Eve (WHA?!?!). Somehow it evolved into a Christmas tree and became popular with the royals : For Victorians, a good Christmas tree had to be six branches tall and be placed on a table covered with a white damask tablecloth. It was decorated with garlands, candies and paper flowers.

This is an excellent article. It talk about a bunch of different Christmas traditions and why we do them. However it kind of glosses over how the christmas tree started. Probably because the author's brain became scrambled eggs when he started researching it, just like mine!

Honestly, I am done. I have read a bunch of articles online, parts of my questions have been answered, but what I really want to know is: What is the purpose of putting up a Christmas tree? What does it symbolize?

Answers anyone?

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