Tuesday, November 22, 2016

O Christmas Tree

They say that if a lie is repeated enough it becomes the truth. That said, a lot of what’s said about the Christmas Tree is simply wrong. There are those who will proclaim that Christians simply appropriated the practice of decorating a tree from some sort of pagan culture that worshipped trees. There were pagans who worshipped trees, but they worshipped mighty oak trees and they did so out of doors. Plus, there is simply no evidence that an indoor, decorated tree is some sort of fertility symbol that we stole from another ancient culture. These are fanciful conclusions based on little or no evidence (with the emphasis on “no evidence”).

There is, however, plenty of evidence that the decorated tree is a prop from the Christian tradition of putting on plays that celebrated Biblical stories from both the Old and New Testaments. The Christmas Tree had its origin in the plays about creation where the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was needed. In other words, a play about Adam and Eve. The balls we place on the trees now were, in fact, representative of the fruit. The garland that snakes it’s around the tree might be the serpent from that story.

It is easy to make the connection between the creation story represented by Adam and Eve and the nativity of Jesus Christ, the story of our re-creation. The Christmas Tree had to migrate from the stage to our living rooms. Well, we can thank the Church for that. The plays became, in some people’s minds, less than dignified and perhaps had taken on a mocking sort of tone so they were banned. Afterwards, people started decorating trees in their homes, eventually losing their association with the creation plays and becoming Christmas Trees.

Caution: After the plays were outlawed they were, for the most part lost. Some continued and some have been recreated and are performed today. So, a bit of guessing is being made by historians today to make this connection. But, at least there is evidence, unlike the pagan connection, where there is simply no credible evidence.

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