Day 15: What IS the Real Meaning?

The Christmas Tree

THE CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE

St. Boniface Story

Why do we have a decorated Christmas Tree? In the 7th century a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, went to Germany to teach the Word of God. He did many good works there, and spent much time in Thuringia, an area which was to become the cradle of the Christmas Decoration Industry.

Legend has it that he used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The converted people began to revere the Fir tree as God’s Tree, as they had previously revered the Oak. By the 12th century it was being hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Central Europe, as a symbol of Christianity.

The first decorated tree was at Riga in Latvia, in 1510. In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night.

So today we arrive at famous Christmas Tree.  We spend lots of time on this part of Christmas.  Some trudge through the woods picking out and cutting down just the right tree.  Others go to a Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect one.  And still many others choose to buy a fake tree at the local department store where there are many colors and sizes to choose from.  Some have lights, some are white, some are green: the possibilities are almost endless.  Then after picking out said tree, we go about fitting it into our living spaces and spend the next few days before Christmas fussing with it.  Those of us who have animals spend a good time scolding our dear pets for even glancing at the tree.  Those with small children have the added headache of making sure ornaments and what not do not find there way into little hands and mouths.

When one gets a real tree, often there is the danger of it drying out and then of course the constant finding of pine needles for up to months later.  Some have lost their homes because they have started on fire.  Now, I was intrigued to find the above story about the history of the tree because it seems as though it started out as a tribute to God and the reason for our celebration, however Christmas trees just like everything else Christmas, have taken on a life of their own over the years.  Growing up the Christmas tree was a source of argument for my parents and often created a cold drift in my parents moods just because someone forgot to water the tree.

Once again how did we get so far off from what Christmas really is?  If we placed a manger in our living rooms, would it cause so much chaos?  If we removed our focus from the positioning of the “lights” would we be able to actually see the “Light” of Christmas instead?  What if we spent the endless amounts of money we spend on ornaments, garland, tinsel and lights on feeding the hungry or clothing those who need it?  So many possibilities.  I know in my younger days I disliked the tree.  Though I found it to be beautiful, it was often a source of argument in my family.

First it was the “it’s too big or too small” issue.  Then it was the endless hours of checking the lights to find out which one was burnt out.  After that it was “the lights are not hung correctly” discussion soon followed by my mom getting mad at my dad making it seem like it was his fault entirely that the branches were not even.  This would lead to dad getting out the  pruning shears and chopping away only to be yelled at again because now the tree was too bare. And Lord forbid if someone forgot to water the tree or put an aspirin in the tree stand.  It was just a never ending dilemma right up until the day it was taken down.  Even in my own family as an adult we had our issues and maybe that is why I have just not gotten around to putting up the tree this year, too much hassle.

Please do not take me wrong on this Christmas tree issue, I love decorated trees and I love the traditions we had in our household, I am just using this as one of my examples of how far we have removed ourselves from the real meaning of Christmas.  If we spent the time this year on others instead of a tree, what a difference we could make in others lives.  The focus of Jesus being born was to give us hope and comfort leading to a life of joy, why not start doing that in respect to others this Christmas season?

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