This blog is inspired by Sindy at bluebutterfliesandme who made the suggestion of having different people blog for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Great idea!
Please check her blog for the full details, and for where you can visit each day:
Image provided by http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/christmas-trees.html
The Christmas Tree
You can look all over the world to see that most countries have a form of Christmas tree on display at this time of year, usually decorated, especially with lights. But where does this tradition come from?
There are many traditions, from the ancient Romans and Egyptians, Germans and Scandinavians to the Druids and many pagan rituals that used evergreen trees to signify new life, spring, and the eventual returning of the light to the world. Various types of greenery were used, and usually brought indoors in winter, or at the time of the winter solstice, to help counteract the dark times and lack of apparent life during the colder months.
These could have been fir trees, but also date palm leaves in the case of Egyptians, or mistletoe or holly in the case of the Druids. Lights (candles back in the day) were later used to symbolise the return of the sun as a surety, and most probably as a symbol of God’s light to the world, Jesus Christ. Many old religions and traditions revered a sun god, and by keeping a symbol of life and light in their homes, it ensured his return in spring, when all things would grow again and agriculture could continue, completing the circle of life.
There is a legend of St Boniface, an English missionary who went to Germany to spread the idea of Christianity to the pagan people. On witnessing them worshipping at an oak tree, he cut it down. In its place appeared a fir tree, which Boniface took as a sign of Christian faith, and the symbolic fir tree has stuck.
Although even those in the Southern Hemisphere (such as in Australia where I live) keep the same tradition at Christmas time, we really should be celebrating it in our own winter solstice in the middle of the year, as that is our winter. Because the old pagan traditions have been blended with the Christian beliefs originally put in place by the converted Romans, the winter solstice at the end of the year (Northern Hemisphere) has become associated with the birth of Christ, and hence the whole celebration it encompasses.
Whether you are Christian or otherwise, the idea of keeping the life and light in your home is a lovely one, and can be done with the traditional Christmas tree, or other greenery which you may like to place on an altar for reverence.
Link to next post: Karen at http://karenkubicko.wordpress.com/