Thursday, December 20, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree

Having been raised in a christian family that did not place much emphasis on Christmas or its observance I would like to ask a question to those of you who do.

Why on earth do you place a tree in your living room each winter? What possible purpose does it serve in "celebrating" the birth of Christ? I am really perplexed about this.

Is there a scriptural mandate I am missing, or is this simply a cultural thing?

17 comments:

Only Look said...

It was of Roman Origin I think, but Martin Luther was the one who started decorating it I think.
The Puritans considered the holiday to be Pagan and disciplined anyone for celebrating it, much less bringing a tree into the house.

Only Look said...

I have a tree in the house so I guess I am not a Puritan:-)

Romans 14 on this one boo.

Jim said...

Brian, thanks for the history. From what I understand Luther actually put burning candles on his tree. That would never go over today. :)


Ha ha, that sounds like you are pleading the 5th or something.

Bhedr said...

ah ha. Yah! I guess by any right we can hide behind Romans 14:-)

But I do think it has a strong place here as well as the Santa Clause thingy. I never lied to my children about him though, but I did tell him he existed years ago as a saint of some kind. Was he Roman too or Anglican?

I did find this interesting bit on jolly ol Saint Nick on Yahoo:

>The Santa Claus story is of MIXED background--combining Germanic mythology and folktales with Christian stories about one or more church leaders (the source of the name Saint Nicholas).

The elves appear to come from a Germanic folktale that was brought into the mix. Here is the story, according to Wikipedia:

"Another early folk tale, originating among the Germanic tribes, tells of a holy man (sometimes Saint Nicholas), and a demon (sometimes the Devil, Krampus, or a troll). The story states that the land was terrorized by a monster who at night would slither down the chimneys and slaughter children (disembowelling them or stuffing them up the flue, or keeping them in a sack to eat later). The holy man sought out the demon, and tricked it with blessed or magical shackles (in some versions the same shackles that imprisoned Christ prior to the crucifixion, in other versions the shackles were those used to hold St. Peter or Paul of Tarsus); the demon was trapped and forced to obey the saint's orders. The saint ordered him to go to each house and make amends, by delivering gifts to the children. Depending on the version, the saint either made the demon fulfil this task every year, or the demon was so disgusted by the act of good will that it chose to be sent back to Hell.

"Yet other versions have the demon reform under the saint's orders, and go on to recruit other elves and imps into helping him, thus becoming Santa Claus."<

No, candles would not go over well and we would probably be sent to social services for it:-)

Todd said...

My short answer would be completely secular/cultural in content. My culture tells me I better do it or I'm a scrooge. Of course I've done an equal share of abusing my culture back so I feel vindicated.

I cope with it by going out back and cutting one of the property I live on so as not to spend money on one. They are generally not great christmas trees; either they're very sticky or prickly or the needles fall right off. But they're cheap with lots of branches to put ornaments on. On it we celebrate a little Chris Cringle/Meister Berger Berger-Meister musical cartoon then the rest is Christian ornamentaion of somekind. And snowflakes and icicles. I lied about santa til she was five just for the fun of it but always told her there were two celebrations at once and the important one was the symbolic birthday of Jesus.

I love taking the tree down much more than putting it up.

Have a blessed memorial day of the coming of the Lord Jim. Todd

Jim said...

Hi Todd, thanks for your comments.

God bless,
Jim

Rose~ said...

Hi Jim,
I think of it merely as a seasonal decoration.

Jim said...

Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by. Are you referring to the winter season, holiday season, or festive season?

Daniel said...

Christ's birth wasn't even celebrated for the first few hundred years of Christianity, we may well ask why Christians bother celebrating it at all, for it, like the Christmas tree, was an "add on".

Jim said...

Daniel, now that you mention it...that is a very good question. :)

Only Look said...

Aw now dont go all bah humbug on me Jim:-)

Jim said...

Hey Brian, I will try not to be a scrooge. But I am really not into the cultural christianity. :)

Christopher said...

Soory to be so late with an answer, but I hope this helps.

When Christianity hit the Vikings and Nordish, they looked at the evergreen tree and mistletoe as a sign of their faith. The tree would stay green and full of life even though it was below zero and everything else was dead. They would say just like our faith and the storms of life, winter storms do not effect these trees.

They became a symbol of faith. The French were the first to cut them down and bring them inside, but they would hang them upside down from the ceiling because there was not much room in their small houses.

It wasn't until the Queen of England decided to decorate her palace with a large tree that it hit America in the mid 1800's, as everyone wanted to immitate the royal family.

Spurgeon was the first to decorate it, but I believe he only hung apples.

The first trees were sold in America right outside Manhatten in the mid 1800's by a man named Car, hense the first Car lot. Car's Christmas tree lot.

As for the scriptual mandate, this is very obviously a man made tradition, so sorry if I didn't answer your question. I only know the history because I researched this many years ago.

As for my family, we do put up a tree, mainly for the family time and to have an excuse to put up Christmas lights. I just want my kids to experience the same warmth, awe, and wonder that I experienced each year when my dad would put up our tree.

Jim said...

Christopher, I appreciate the history. I had also heard that Queen Victoria's Christmas tree decoration was also the catalyst for widespread acceptance. Interesting it was also her afternoon tea time that also caught on with English housewives.

While I can understand some may have seen a spiritual significance in the evergreen, I still fail to acknowledge any mandate for its use, especially in conjunction with the birth of Christ.

Thanks for stopping by.

God bless,
Jim

MaLady said...

The story I read about St. Nick (in the Watchtower, I think) was that he was a lonely old cobbler who realized the sorrow of the poor children who weren't given gifts. So he followed one home to remember where he lived and fixed up an old toy to secretly leave for him at Christmas. Eventually he had so many that he was planning to deliver that he had to use a sleigh to pull them...and the idea caught on.

I also read somewhere that the Christmas tree started when an evangelist "killed" the "tree god" of idolaters somewhere in Europe. The story is that he chopped it down and out of it grew an evergreen, which was then adopted as a sign of that conversion. (the one that happened when the people saw a miracle instead of the wrath of Thor, or whoever it was)

they both sound convenient, don't they?

I think Christmas would be a bust if we don't use the season and symbols to turn our hearts to him and glorify him. All those carols make for a great meditation on God's goodness, his will for people, his sovereignty and his gentleness.

Jim said...

Hi malady, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Sam said...

I place a christmas tree in our living room each winter. It looks so beautiful, i like it.