Daily Wisdom Words

HISTORY: CHRISTMAS TREE

HISTORY:  CHRISTMAS TREE

THE CHRISTMAS TREE, LIKE SO MANY OTHER TRADITIONS HAS A HISTORY.  DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, WE WILL. BE MAKING AN EXCEPTION TO OUR ONE WORD RULE FOR THE DAILY WISDOM WORDS BLOG.  AS WITH OTHER TRADITIONS WE HAVE READ ABOUT, THE CHRISTMAS TREE FIRST ORIGINATED IN GERMANY WHEN IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY, DEVOUT CHRISTIANS BROUGHT DECORATED TREES INTO THEIR HOMES.  SOME BUILT CHRISTMAS PYRAMIDS WITH WOOD AND DECORATED THEM WITH CANDLES IF WOOD WAS SCARCE.

LONG BEFORE THE ADVENT OF CHRISTIANITY, PLANTS AND TREES THATA REMAINED GREEN ALL YEAR HAD A SPECIAL MEANING FOR PEOPLE IN THE WINTER.  JUST AS PEOPLE DECORATE THEIR  HOMES WITH PINE, SPRUCE AND FIR TREES, ANCIENT PEOPLES HUNG EV EVERGREEN BOUGHS OVER THEIR DOORS AND WINDOWS.. IN MANY COUNTRIES, IT WAS BELIEVED THAT EVERGREENS KEPT AWAY BAD SPIRITS, GHOSTS, ILLNESS, AND WITCHES.  

IT IS A WIDELY HELD BELIEF THAT MARTIN LUTHER, THE 16TH CENTURY PROTESTANT REFORMER FIRST ADDED CANDLES TO A TREE.  WALKING TOWARDS HIS HOME ONE WINTER EVENING, COMPOSING A SERMON, HE WAS AWED BY THE BRILLIANCE OF THE STARS TWINKLING ANUDST EVERGREENS.  TO RECAPTURE THE SCENE FOR HIS FAMILY, HE ERECTED A CHRISTMAS TREE IN HIS HOME AND WIRED IT WITH CANDLES.

MOST 19TH CENTURY AMERICANS FOUND CHRISTMAS TREES AN ODDITY.  THE FIRST RECORD OF ONE BEING ON DISPLAY  WAS IN THE 1830’S BY THE GERMAN SETTLERS IN PENNSYLVANIA, ALTHOUGH AS MENTIONED ABOVE, THE TRADITION HAD STARTED IN GERMANY IN THE 1800’S.  THE PENNSYLVANIA GERMAN SETTLEMENTS HAD COMMUNITY TREES AS EARLY AS 1747, BUT IN THE 1840’S CHRISTMAS TREES WERE SEEN AS PAGAN AMONGST MOST AMERICANS AND NOT ACCEPTABLE.  IT IS NOT SURPRISING THIS TRADITION WAS ADOPTED SO LATE IN AMERICA.  TO THE New England PATRIOTS, CHRISTMAS WAS SACRED.  ]

THE PILGRIMS SECOND GOVERNOR, WILLIAM BRADFORD, WROTE THAT HE TRIED HARD TO STAMP OUT “PAGAN MOCKERY” OF THE OBSERVANCE, PENALIZING ANY FRIVOLITY.  THE INFLUENTIAL OLIVER CROMWELL PREACHED AGAINST THE TRADITIONS OF CHRISTMAS CAROLS, DECORATED TREES, AND THE JOYFUL EXPRESSION THAT DESECRATED “THAT SACRED EVENT”.  IN 1659, THE GENERAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS ENACTED A LAW MAKING ANY OBSERVANCE OF DECEMBER 25TH (OTHER THAN A CHURCH SERVICE)MA PENAL OFFENSE;  PEOPLE WERE FINED FOR HANGING DECORATIONS.  THAT STERN SOLEMNITY CONTINUED UNTIL THE 19TH CENTURY, WHEN THE INFLUX OF GERMAN AND IRISH IMMIGRANTS UNDERMINED THE PURITAN LEGACY.  

BY THE 1890’S, CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS WERE ARRIVING FROM GERMANY AND CHRISTMAS TREE POPULARITY WAS ON THE RISE AROUND THE U.S.  AMERICANS LIKED THEIR TREES TO REACH FROM FLOOR TO CEILING.  CHRISTMAS IS CELEBRATED ALL OVER THE WORLD NOW ALTHOUGH SAUDI ARABIA LOOKS DOWN UPON THIS TRADITION.  

THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING ABOUT CHRISTMAS TREES TODAY!  IT IS FASCINATING THAT MOST OF OUR HOLIDAY TRADITIONS COME FROM OUR IMMIGRANTS AND WERE BROUGHT HERE.  THIS MONTH IS THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE WITH MY BLOG WHERE EACH POST WILL BE CONNECTED TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON IN SOME WAY DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER.  

GOD BLESS,  Samantha Leboeuf

 

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Ace Apayda
Ace Apayda
10 months ago

Thanks for shedding light on our Christmas traditions! Very interesting read. It is nice to know that trees are such a positive and healing force in our world.

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