Why Christmas Tress?

"The first National Christmas Tree,"...
Image via Wikipedia

Last week I posted on the supposed connection of the Christmas tree with Christianity where some members of the local public were enraged that a Christmas tree, created for a competition, was crafted using tins of alcoholic beverages. Though I do not think that those participants were promoting beer but most alcoholic tin cans are green so that might have been the logical explanation. To me it’s still quite a fuss for these people to complain about it.

Anyways, Christianity Today has a piece on the historical background on how the Christmas tree came to pass. I mean, this thing does have a history! I guess it’s a good piece to read for those who are adamant that the Christmas Tree has connections with the Christian religion. I’d rather read this than someone arguing that some are impaling the Christian symbol.

Reading through the article it does indicate to Asians that the tree is a Western conception, which now finds its way to Asian adoption. It has no biblical roots whatsoever. The article mentions that it was during

“…the Renaissance are there clear records of trees being used as a symbol of Christmas—beginning in Latvia in 1510 and Strasbourg in 1521.”

The most likely historical theory dates the introduction of the Christmas tree with “medieval plays” where it symbolized the Garden of Eden depicted as the “paradise tree.” Further on in the 17th and 18th century saw the rise of the practice as well as the decorations that people use now to decorate the tree. See for example this excerpt

“Alongside the tree often stood wooden “pyramids”—stacks of shelves bearing candles, sometimes one for each family member. Eventually these pyramids of candles were placed on the tree, the ancestors of our modern Christmas tree lights and ornaments.”

But there have been some concern by clergy which they saw it a distraction to the “true evergreen tree, Jesus Christ.”

As for the practice of giving gifts which is also acquainted with the Christmas tree, the practice, according to the article, was that of the Romans. Again we see here that practices connected with the Christmas tree was of Western invention, albeit, a social practice which Christians have Christianized to conform as a Christian practice.

Moving along historical lines as well, this practice followed through to the “New World in the early 1800s” where the practice oriented towards a family themed perspective to replace older and more alcohol fueled Christmas tradition, particularly in America by their leaders. But as the real symbolism revels itself, the tree and the gifts are traced to Jesus, as the article states in the conclusion of the article.

Reading through, though the practice has no biblical significance, whatever is Christian about the Christmas tree comes into contact with the Christian faith via symbolism, which works as a bridge to explain something greater. In that way, the Christmas tree in itself has no significance, only how people have tried to symbolize it to mean something spiritual. In that manner I’m not so much in opposition towards the practice. It’s ok if people want to continue in that tradition. It only gets ugly if the Christmas tree becomes something we can’t do out with. So whatever other people want to do with it, let them. We don’t have a monopoly on it. But when it comes to contaminating the meaning of Jesus, that’s when we have to somehow put our foot down in healthy explanation.