A Light for My Path Devotional

The Legend of the Christmas Tree

II CORINTHIANS 9:15 (KJV)
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.

Numerous legends surround the use of an evergreen tree placed in homes as a symbol of Christmas.  Just how the tradition actually started is really uncertain.  Some say it started with a monk in the 7th century who used an inverted evergreen as a triangular visual prop to represent the Holy Trinity.

Others state that it was St. Boniface, missionary to the Germans, who in 725 A.D. chopped down a massive oak tree believed to be sacred by the Druids to keep them from making their sacrifices there.  Supposedly the oak split into four parts when it fell and a young fir tree came from its center.  This, he told people, represented the Christ-child born among us.  The monk then instructed folks to place a fir tree in their homes as a reminder of the life Christ brings.

Another popular legend comes out of the 11th century tradition of churches performing a “Paradise Play” at Christmas about the Garden of Eden and our need for a Savior.  An evergreen represented the Tree of Knowledge and was covered it with apples. Later wafers were added to symbolize the new life we have in Christ, and the Tree of Life.

The fact is that we find the very first record of a decorated Christmas tree was in 1510 at Riga in Latvia. (The German Tannenbaum songs, however, date back to around 1500.)  The custom grew and by the early 1600’s was very popular especially among the Lutherans in Germany where people decorated their trees with wafers, paper flowers, fruits, nuts, gold foil, and small candies and cakes.  For them, the evergreen tree was a reminder of God’s eternality and His wonderful Gift, the Lord Jesus Christ, who offers us eternal life.  Throughout Christendom, green symbolizes this hope and new life in Christ.

During the next 200 years the tradition continued to grow and spread from Germany to England by German Prince Albert who married Queen Victoria.  Later German immigrants living in Pennsylvania put up the first Christmas tree in the United States on December 20, 1821.  President Franklin Pierce popularized this custom by placing a Christmas tree at the White House.

Like other Christmas symbols, the beloved Christmas tree points us to wonderful truths from the Word of God concerning Christ’s birth and His purpose for coming to earth.  The star that is placed atop the tree pointing Heavenward speaks of the star that led the wisemen to Bethlehem to find the Christ-child.  Decorative angels represent the voice that spoke to the shepherds, and the multitude of Heavenly hosts that said “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  Strings of lights tell us that Christ is the Light of the World. Colorful ornaments remind us of His many gifts to us—especially the Gift of God’s Son.

Thank You, Lord, for this wonderful reminder of Christ’s advent and the hope that we have because of Him.

By Ann Shorb
©Copyright 2010, Ann Shorb

A lady in the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia created a multitude of beautiful and meaningful Christ-focused Christmas decorations and all-year reminders. Patterns to make these are available at www.chrismon.org/site/chrismon/booklist.php.

Skits for Fun and Learning - Puppet scriptsSkits for Fun and Learning
Skits for Fun and Learning is a collection of 15 puppet scripts and 5 articles on the subject of success with puppet ministries. The articles and scripts have been written by Dr. Ann Shorb and the book is available for purchase as a paperback, or as a PDF download.

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