Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Thousands of years ago, in pre Christian times, the people of the day believed that evergreen trees were magic. When all the other trees were brown and bare, and had lost all their leaves, the evergreen was still strong and green.
People back then saw this as a symbol of life in the depths of Winter. A sure sign that Spring , with it's warmer times and sunshine would soon return, breathing new life into everything once again.
The lights we have on our trees, or candles as they were originally, are also an ancient symbol. They represent the light of Spring triumphing over the darkness of Winter. The ancient Romans would have a special feast in mid-Winter where they would decorate their homes with greenery, and like our current Christmas Time, shops were closed and there was a carnival like atmosphere and, like today, they gave each other presents.
It is said the Christmas tree came 'indoors' around the early 1500's. A German monk by the name of Martin Luther was returning home one Winters night through a forest, and he saw the stars twinkling between the bare branches. He was so enthralled by the beauty of what he had seen that he wanted to explain to his brothers. So to do this he cut a small fir tree down and brought it back home, then decorated it with candles to represent the stars he had seen twinkling.
The custom took off from there and spread throughout Germany, then all over the world. In the UK the first Christmas tree appeared when Queen Victoria married Albert, who was German. He set up their first Christmas tree in 1841, to remind him of his homeland and their customs.
In the US the custom was brought over by immigrants from England as well as Germany in the 1800's.
So when you sit this Christmas and look at your tree, it has a history dating back thousands of years, and like many Christian traditions, it's roots (pardon the pun!) can be found in the old Pagan religions of the past.
Have a Merry Christmas!