Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Legend of Christmas Tree

THE LEGEND OF CHRISTMAS TREE




This symbol of the season has so many legends associated with it, entire books have been written on the subject.


Some say the modern day Christmas tree has its origins in the Pagan Yule celebration.  Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months.  Bells were hung in the branches so they could tell when a spirit was present.  Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, was placed atop the tree.

Some say the Christmas tree story began in the 1300's in northern Europe, when performers strolled the streets bearing huge pine boughs laden with apples as walking advertisements for the miracle plays they staged on the church steps. The boughs represented the Garden of Eden in the play about Adam and Eve, traditionally performed on Dec. 24th. Gradually this "paradise" tree, as it was called, transmuted into the tree of life--the Christ Child's tree.

Another legend from the early days of Christianity in England tells the story of a Christian monk who was trying to spread Christianity amond the Druids. One day, surronded by a group of his converts, he struck down a huge oak tree, which, in the Druid religion, was an object of worship. As it fell to the ground, the oak tree split into four pieces and from its center sprung up a fir tree. The monk told the Druids, "This little tree shall be your Holy Tree tonight. It is a wood of peace, for your houses are built of fir. It's the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are evergreen. See how it points toward the heavens? Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness, but in your homes. There it will be surrounded with loving gifts and rites of kindness."

One of the first written references to a Christmas tree was in 1605 , where a visitor in Germany reported seeing a tree decorated with apples, gilded candies, paper roses and thin wafers. The rose was the symbol of Mary the Virgin; the wafer represented the host of the Holy Communion, and the gilded candies were for children. The writer called the tree "Christbaum".Two hundred years later, it was brought to England by German Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria and found its way to the United States through German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania who put up our first Christmas tree on December 20, 1821.




**As a little side-story connected with Christmas Trees, the addition of tinsel as decoration comes from a legend about a poor old woman who was unable to provide decorations for her children's Christmas tree. During the night, spiders lodged in the tree and covered it with their webs. The Christ Child, seeing this, realized that the woman would be sad to see her surprise spoiled. He turned the spider webs into silver, and the next morning the poor family was dazzled by the brilliant "tinsel" that shone on the tree

Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time real silver was used, and machines were invented which pulled the silver out into the wafer thin strips. Though it was durable, it tarnished easily, so some attempt was made to make tinsel with lead and tin. This proved too heavy and breakable, so silver was actually used until the mid 20th century. Today, the tinsel we use is made of plastic.


10 comments:

  1. The story of spiders and Christmas trees were popular in Germany. In earlier days, people wanted their animals to be a part of the Christmas celebration because it was believed that the Christ child was born in a stable. So, they allowed their animals to come inside their homes to see the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Homemakers didn’t allow spider to come inside their homes because they didn’t want to spoil things inside. Spiders were unhappy for this and they complained to the Christ child. The Christ child was sad for the spiders and helped them get into the home at late night to watch the Christmas tree. Spiders enjoyed the whole night, they moved slowly and happily from one branch to another. The trees were covered with webs. The housewives were really contented on the next day seeing what spiders had done. All the cobwebs were turned into the sparkling tinsel with the help of the Christ child. The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree with the tinsel is still followed.

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  2. Nice, I mean I totally like your post design!
    Many legends exist about the origin of the Christmas tree.

    There is a story of Martin Luther. Martin Luther was the founder of the protestant faith. While he was walking through a forest on a Christmas Eve, he was impressed by the beauty of millions of stars showing their lights through the evergreen tree branches. He was mesmerized with this fabulous vista and had decided to cut down a small tree. He took the tree for his family. To watch the same marvelous sight of the forest, he had decorated the wooden branches of the tree with a number of candles.

    Another legend tells the story of an unfortunate woodsman who met a mislaid and starving child on one Christmas Eve. Even thought the woodsman was really poor but he arranged food and offered shelter to the child. The woodsman woke up in the very next morning to find a beaming tree outside his home and surprisingly he found one as well. The child was really the Christ child who camouflaged. The child rewarded the poor woodsman the glittering tree for his charity.

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  3. I stumbled upon the Legend of the Christmas Tree while going through boxes of old Christmas Cards. Today, the Christmas tree is the highlight of our Christmas festivities. Topped with a star, and adorned with lights and ornaments, it is a part of the beauty and meaning of the Christmas season.

    How did the Christmas tree come to play such an important part in the observance of Christmas? There is a legend that comes down to us from the early days of Christianity in England.

    One of those helping to spread Chriatianity among the Druids was a monk named Wilfred (later Saint Wilfred). One day, surrounded by a group of his converts, he struck down a huge Oak tree, which, in the Druid religion, was an object of worship.

    As the Oak tree fell to the ground, it split into four pieces, and from its center there grew a young Fir tree, pointing a green spire toward the sky.

    The crowd gazed in amazement. Wilfred let his axe drop, and turned to speak.

    “This little tree shall be your Holy Tree tonight. It is the wood of peace, for your houses are built of the Fir. It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are evergreen. See how it points toward the heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness, but in your homes. There it will be surrounded with loving gifts and rites of kindness."

    And to this day, that is why the Fir Tree is one of our loveliest symbols of Christmas.

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  4. Martin Luther, the German monk and the famous church reformer has been credited with the indoor tree decorations. It is said that once while he was wandering through the woods, he saw the dew glistening like stars on the fir trees. He was so mesmerized by the beauty that he brought a small tree to his home and tried to recreate the splendor by lighting up little candles on it. In the middle Ages, evergreen trees in home or near home symbolized hope for Spring for Germans and Scandinavians. Later it came to be symbolized as life in Europe and other parts of the world and was thus adopted as Christmas symbol.

    There is an interesting legend associating it with the birth of Jesus Christ. On the night when Jesus was born, all creatures contributed gifts to be taken to Bethlehem. While olive tree provided its fruit and palm tree came up with dates, fir tree was at loss and was distressed, as it could offer nothing to the newborn king. So an angel took pity on the poor tree and decorated it with stars. Baby Jesus was pleased to see the lighted tree. Since then, it has become a custom to decorate the fir tree on Christmas.

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  5. There are in fact several myths surrounding the Christmas tree tradition, some of which go back to 1605. This is the first recorded reference of the Christmas tree. A traveler who was visiting Germany in December of that year claimed that he saw a tree that was decorated with strange (but wonderful) things such as colored candies, slim wafers, roses and apples. Over the years people from different cultures started adding their own twist to the list of decorations.

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  6. Others feel the origin of the Christmas tree may be the "Paradise Play." In medieval times most people would not read and plays were used to teach the lessons of the bible all over Europe. The Paradise Play, which showed the creation of man and the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden was performed every year on December 24th. The play was performed in winter creating a slight problem. An apple tree was needed but apple trees do not bare fruit in winter so a substitution was made. Evergreens were hung with apples and used instead. Thereby starting the tradition of decorating Christmas tree.

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  7. Legend of the Evergreen Trees
    One winter, when the birds were all leaving for south and warmer areas, one little bird broke its wing on the way and was left behind. Soon frost and snow covered the forest and she was cold and hungry. So she asked the trees to help her and let her stay in its branches. However, the threes are not always kind. The birch tree was proud of being beautiful and haughtily replied to the bird's pleas by saying that he could not possibly help him because he had to look after the birds of the forest first. The strong oak tree was reluctant because it was afraid that the bird would have to live there till spring time and would eat up some of its acorns. Even the willow tree that seemed to be gentle otherwise refused to help or even talk to the strangers.

    The poor bird was in much distress and tried to fly some more but her wing was still not fit for the purpose. Seeing her struggling like this, the spruce tree asked her, why she seems so downcast. When the bird revealed her miseries, it offered her the thickest, softest and warmest branch to stay. The bird was really glad to find some help. Inspired by the kindness of spruce tree, the big and strong pine tree also volunteered to protect the spruce tree and the bird from the North Wind all through the winters. The little juniper tree also piped in to offer its berries to the bird to quench her hunger. So, the bird lived comfortably there and flew away again at springtime, when its wing healed again.

    The Frost King, who kept close note of the behavior of all trees, strictly instructed the North Wind not to touch even a single leaf of the kind spruce, pine and juniper trees; while he was free to play havoc with the leaves of other trees. The North Wind especially enjoyed in plucking the shining, green leaves of the willow, oak and bird trees and leaving them bare for the winters, with nothing to protect them from snow, rain and sleet. It is for this kindness that the leaves of the spruce, the pine, and the juniper are always green and they are known as evergreen trees.

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  8. There is a cartoon, named "The Christmas Tree Train".
    Bear cub, Buttons, and his fox companion, Rusty, take a ride on a freight train bound for the city. Now they're lost and must get home before Christmas but first they gotta dodge people, cars, and other dangers.

    You can watch it online - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzCj0qDYBGk

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  9. A Christmas Tree! A Christmas Tree!

    A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
    With dark green needled memories
    Of childhood dreams and mysteries
    Wrapped present-like in front of me.

    A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
    I glimpse a past wherein i see
    The child that then grew into me
    Not forward fast but haltingly.

    A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
    A time for being with family
    A time that's gone so fleetingly
    Yet lives for always deep in me.

    A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
    When twelfth night comes whole hauntingly
    One lingered look and then i see
    No Christmas tree where it would be.

    A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree!
    With feelings now felt longingly
    No corner in my house to see
    The magic of that Christmas tree.
    David Keig

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