Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The History of the Christmas Tree

St. Boniface, an English monk, was sent on a missionary journey to Germany in 719. There he found that most people there were Pagans, even those that had become Christian had either gone back to their old ways, or because of lack of teaching had combined bits and pieces of the two beliefs together. So he set out to convert the people. One way that he did that was by disproving superstitions rooted in the Pagan beliefs. One of those superstitions was that because the oak was sacred if you cut down an oak you would be cursed by the gods and bad things would happen to you. So he cut down an oak tree. And it destroyed everything it fell on except a fir sapling. (And of course he was fine, or else it really wouldn’t be a good story.) Which people thought was a miracle, (the tree part) so people started planting fir saplings at Christmas time.
Over time people started to bring the small fir trees inside. And for some reason, unknown to us they would hand them upside down from their ceiling beams.
Then one dark night, Martin Luther was walking in the woods before Christmas thinking up a sermon, when he looked up and saw all the stars in the sky. This reminded him of the Christmas star and God’s light. He thought up his sermon and brought home a fir tree for Christmas, but thinking back to the stars he set it upright and added candles to light on it.
Over time various decorations were added to make the tree look nicer or because of symbolic meanings, but the Christmas tree stayed largely a tradition only in Germany in the surrounding countries until the Victorian era. During that time Queen Victoria married Prince Albert (of can fame) who was German. They added the Christmas tree to their holiday festivities and within a few years all of England embraced the Christmas tree as if it had always been a part of their Christmas. And from their it spread to America and around the world.-T

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