We all wait till Christmas to put up our Christmas tree and decorate it. It is typically a time when family members gather in joy and happiness. Our children are excited about putting all of the decorations on the tree. However, with all the celebrations and the rush we rarely inquire where the Christmas tree came from. Is it a religious symbol? Do these decorations have meanings, or are they just a part of the celebration culture?
Several stories connect the Christmas tree to Christmas Eve and Christianity. Some of them relate it to Martin Luther King, who was inspired by the stars one night and bought a tree to decorate with candles.
According to history, the Germans were the first to use a Christmas tree in the 15th century. It was a pagan tradition in Scandinavian countries to commemorate the winter solstice on December 25th by decorating evergreen trees and then burning them to celebrate life that continues even in the harshest winter conditions.
Following that, Christians accepted this practice and began to install Christmas trees on Christmas Night and remove them on January 6. It was considered as bad luck to put up the tree before that. Wafers, candles, and apples have been used to decorate the trees; Apples signify Adam and Eve's Tree of Life, Candles represent the "light of life" reflecting Jesus as the eternal light, and Wafers symbolize reincarnation. Some associate the Christmas balls with the planets, the green tree with life, the lights with the ever-burning fire of life, and the stars with the Bethlehem stars.
All of these symbols are useful to explain and teach our children the history and traditions of the Christmas tree.
Enjoy the holiday season and have fun decorating your tree!