Oh – Christmas Tree!?

I LOVE the Christmas Season – the colourful decorations (green and red being my favourite colours all through the year), the twinkling lights, traditional Christmas carols, ginger bread men, shortbread cookies, candy cane hot chocolate, The Nutcracker Suite, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, buying Christmas presents (and of course receiving them), and decorating the Christmas tree with loved ones.

Many years ago, I came across teachings from a few different ‘Christian’ sources which taught that the Christmas tree was not a Christian symbol or tradition and that in fact, it was a pagan tradition and therefore should not be found in a Christian home. I was shocked and dismayed, as I loved the whole aspect of the Christmas tree tradition (Ok – I admit I hated all those dry, prickly needles falling all over the place).

I used to enjoy taking my two young boys out for a drive in the country to search for a tree in one of the many Crown Land wood lots that were in our area of Northern Ontario. I remember one time when we spotted a tree that looked like it was just the right shape and size standing in the middle of a clearing. The boys and I got out of the truck, I swung the axe over my shoulder and we stepped off the road onto the field – only to find out that the snow was up to my hips! I had to break trail for the boys and when we finally got to the tree, we discovered that half of it’s height was hidden under the snow – so much for being the perfect size! We did bring that tree home though.

Is there anything quite like the smell of a fresh evergreen in the home? And then began the fun of decorating the tree – an activity for which my youngest son always waited with much anticipation. I used to like to decorate the tree in the evening. I liked the feeling of coziness that came from being safe and warm inside while it was dark and cold outside. We used to put on Christmas carols, drink hot chocolate and nibble Christmas cookies while we decorated.

I had started the tradition of buying a Christmas ornament every year for each of the boy’s stockings. That way, they would have a collection of ornaments for when they were grown up and had a place of their own. The boys used to enjoy unwrapping their own decorations each year and placing them on the tree. Of course, the perfectionist ‘artiste’ in me just had to do a wee bit of rearranging after they had gone to bed! LOL

I think that decorating the Christmas tree with my sons was one of my most favourite Christmas activities, one that brought us closer together as a family and one that I miss very much now that my sons are grown and living away from me.

So I was very dismayed when I found out that I may be participating in a pagan activity by putting up a Christmas tree. Since I sincerely want to be the best Christian that I can be, and I don’t wish to offend by Heavenly Father, I decided to do some research.

The following is some info. that I have found the History.com website:

(http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees)

Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. … ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

There is a lot of evidence that a wide variety of cultures and belief systems held evergreen plants and trees in special regard. In that respect, it is true that evergreens have been used for non-Christian practices. However, I also found the following info. on the same website:

Many Christmas traditions practiced around the world today started in Germany.

It has been long thought that Martin Luther began the tradition of bringing a fir tree into the home. According to one legend, late one evening Martin Luther was walking home through the woods and noticed how beautifully the stars shone through the trees. He wanted to share the beauty with his wife so he cut down a fir tree and took it home. Once inside he placed small lighted candles on the branches and said that it would be a symbol of the beautiful Christmas sky. Hence, the Christmas tree.

Another legend says that in the early 16th century, people in Germany combined two customs that had been practiced in different countries around the globe. The Paradise tree (a fir tree decorated with apples) represented the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The Christmas Light, a small, pyramid-like frame, usually decorated with glass balls, tinsel, and a candle on top, was a symbol of the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. Changing the tree’s apples to tinsel balls and cookies; and combining this new tree with the Light placed on top, the Germans created the tree that many of us know now.

So there is also evidence that Christians were using evergreens to represent Christian beliefs.

After researching, thinking and praying, these are my thoughts on the Christmas tree issue:

God created every plant, including evergreens and He thought that it was all good.

Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth tender sprouts (the herb seeding seed and the fruit tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself) upon the earth; and it was so.
Gen 1:12 And the earth brought forth tender sprouts, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed was in itself. And God saw that it was good.

Now I may be mistaken, but I don’t think that a ‘thing’ or ‘object’ is evil or wicked in and of itself. Even Paul taught that in the eyes of God, the idols that unsaved mankind made were nothing.

1Co 8:4 Then concerning the eating of the things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except one.

I think that what Paul was saying was that idols that man has made from things in the earth, are in fact, just things. It is not the things that are bad but the wrong regard that man has for them and the wrong things he does with them, including worshipping them.

God’s Word tells us that the things that God made in this world testify of Him.

Rom 1:20 For the unseen things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being realized by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead,…

For me, an evergreen tree is one of the beautiful things that God has made for me to enjoy. The green branches and the fresh smell remind me of life  – the life I have in Christ Jesus. I love nature and am working on collecting ornaments and objects which remind me of God’s wonderful creation. We also have a collection of ornaments which remind us of the many special blessed times in our lives, like the first Christmas my hubby and I shared together, my grand daughter’s first Christmas and of course hand-made decorations that my sons had made for me when they were small. And then there is the beautiful star or angel that sits on the top of the tree which reminds us of the wonderful message of the birth of Christ.

I do not worship the tree, the ornaments on it, or the presents under it. I do not attribute magical or mystical powers to the tree nor does it symbolize a false god to me. What the Christmas tree does mean for me is a wonderful time spent with loved ones and it is just one aspect of celebrating the wonderful gift of the birth of Jesus.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! !”

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