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What's the significance of the christmas tree?
Why is it synonymous with christmas?
asked in christmas, trees

imfeduptoo answers:

There are several different explanations as to wht we have Christmas trees.
This is the one that rings most true to me but you may get others and can then take your pick!

"From being a pagan symbol of everlasting life, the Christmas tree went on to become the symbol of the Trinity."

"An evergreen Christmas Tree, decorated lavishly with ornaments, tinsel, and lights, is one of the most popular and prevailing image of Christmas. There are various legends about how the tree represents the enduring message of Christ, but in actual fact, as with many of the accepted and generally unquestioned traditions of Christianity, this too was lifted from the already existing Pagan customs and conveniently incorporated as an integral religious symbol.

It was customary for the Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere to celebrate the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day and longest night of the year, generally falling on 21 or 22 December, and the Pagans believed it to be the turning point at which the Sun God began to recover once more from the sickness that had plagued him in the earlier months and which had brought Winter to the land. Such an event, of course, had to be celebrated, and the celebrations were marked with decorations of evergreens like pine, spruce and fir being put up over doors and windows - the evergreens had admirably withstood the onslaught of winter unlike other plants, and so hopefully were capable of withstanding and warding off any attentions from unwanted elements like witches, evil spirits and so on. This was one reason for so honoring them, and, secondly, their greenery symbolized the other plants/crops/means of livelihood that would, thanks to the recovering Sun God, soon spring back to life, and make overall existence easier for everyone.

This was the general philosophy that was followed by the Celts, the Goths, the Vikings, the Early Romans and the Egyptians, amongst others of the Ancient World. The Egyptians, worshippers of the Sun God Ra, of course used the more easily available green Palm leaves instead of pines. The Romans had a really grand celebration known as the Saturnalia, where the entire city turned out to pay homage to their God of Agriculture, Saturn, and have a generally riotious time. All Roman houses and temples were decorated with evergreen boughs during Saturnalia.

Later on, as mentioned, the Christians adopted the custom. From being a pagan symbol of everlasting life, the Christmas tree went on to become the symbol of the Trinity.

But the tradition of a decorated Christmas Tree as we know it now is considered to have been started in the 16th century by the Protestant Reformer Priest, Martin Luther. Apparently, on one of his nightly walks, he had stopped to admire the sight of stars shining brightly through the branches of the towering evergreens between the evergreens and thought his family should share in the wonder of the sight. So, instead of logically summoning them outside, he later had a tree cut and brought indoors, where he attempted to recreate the effect by fixing candles in candle-holders on its branches. This was the start of having indoor Christmas trees.

Much later, when many of the Protestant followers of Martin Luther migrated to Pennsylvania, they brought the tradition of the Christmas tree to America.

It didn't gain wide-spread hold in America right away though. The Puritans, suspicious as always and rightly in this case, wanted to have no truck with 'heathen customs' - this included a strong oposition to singing carols and anything that might remotely smack of enjoyment and 'desecrate' the holy event. Actually the Puritans were opposed to celebrating Christmas on 25th December too and even managed to get the General Court of Massachusetts pass a law that made it a penal offense - people could actually be arrested for singing or decorating their homes!"


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wumpus answers:

It just happens to be a handy evergreen.

Like lots of others which came to be associated with Christmas - holly, ivy, mistletoe, laurel, etc.

But the traditional Norway Spruce has the advantages that it can grow in harsh conditions, and it grows fast.
Ideal for replenishable forestry.

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