As Christmas is just around the corner, are you are all geared up for the holiday season and decking up your spaces with the perfect Christmas tree by the fireplace? Christmas is incomplete without a Christmas tree. The evergreen pine or fir tree decorated with lights, stockings, ornaments, and a bright shining star is what makes your Christmas merrier. It is also the place where Santa leaves his gifts for kids.
But have you ever wondered what the significance of the Christmas tree is? Or why is it an essential part of the festivities? Or why do we decorate it? Well, if you are thrilled about knowing the significance of the Christmas tree, then get yourself a hot cup of cocoa and settle yourself in cozy furniture because we are all set to tell you about the exciting meanings and traditions of a Christmas tree.
History of the Christmas Tree
To understand the significance of the Christmas tree, we must start with its history. Did you know the Christmas tree tradition is older than Christmas itself? Yes, that’s right! In many ancient cultures like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, trees were associated with fertility and eternal life. People decorated their homes with evergreen trees to have mid-winter celebrations. For all these civilizations, evergreen plants were symbolic of life and death. And because they tended to hold needles all year long, these trees were believed to have magic protecting houses from ghosts and evil spirits.
Germany witnessed the decoration of Christmas trees first in the 16th century. The Western German peasants began decorating Christmas trees on 24th December to celebrate the Feast of Adam and Eve. And by the mid-1800s, Christmas tree decoration became a popular holiday tradition all across Europe and America.
Regardless of the origin, Christmas trees symbolize various aspects of the holiday today. The decorating of Christmas trees is now associated with the spirit of giving and receiving gifts, embracing the holiday season, and eternal life.
Meaning and Symbolism of Christmas Trees in Different Civilisations
The decoration of houses with trees held different meanings in history, myth, and lore. Some of which include:-
- Romans: In Roman culture, evergreen trees symbolized light. Romans decorated their houses and temples with evergreen trees to mark the celebration of Saturnalia. It was a festival to honor the god of agriculture, Saturn.
- Greeks: In Greek culture, coniferous pine was considered sacred to the world of vegetation. Greeks decorated their pines with bells and silver adornments. They even placed offerings under the tree as sacrifices to deities.
- Japanese and Chinese: Cypress and pine trees are considered sacred and symbolize longevity and immortality in Japanese and Chinese cultures. The wood of these trees is used in these cultures for building holy structures and temples.
- Germans: As we already know, the Germans first started the tradition of decorating the Christmas trees.
True Origin of the Christmas Tree
Christmas trees have initially symbolized mid-winter celebrations by bringing evergreen plants into the home. Today, the tradition and significance of the Christmas tree are attributed to Germany. You would be surprised to know, but the Christmas tree started as a pyramid tree if people could not find the plant that represented the Christmas tree. People used wood to create a pyramid in the shape of a tree and decorated it with paper, candles, gingerbread, and nuts.
The trees and pyramids were then paraded around the town to show them to the other households as a sign of health and magic on Christmas eve. As years went by, it became more common for families to decorate their trees and keep them inside their houses rather than showcasing them in front of the village.
Story of Martin Luther and the Christmas Tree
In 16th century Germany, it is believed that the first known Christmas tree was bought and decorated by a man named Martin Luther. He had six children named Elizabeth, Martin, Paul, Hans, Margaret, and Magdalene, and he loved all of them dearly.
To brighten the holiday season and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, he wanted to do something special. He often admired the beauty of evergreen trees that stood firm near his home and delighted his heart. He considered those trees brave and magical, which kept green even when everything around them went dry and lifeless.
One day, Martin Luther cut down one of those trees and bought it into his home to bring some of its beauty and fight the darkness and bleakness of winters. With this evergreen tree standing tall in his house, he wanted to remind his children that even in the toughest and vulnerable moments, these trees bring hope in the midst of the cold and dark.
He compared the evergreen trees with their faith in Jesus and explained to his children that the tree remains green even in winters, just like their faith in Jesus. It remains green even in times of trouble and despair, just like their faith stays alive in Jesus in times of sorrow. Then he put candles on the tree, and it was probably the first decorated Christmas tree, leading to the Christmas tradition we follow today.
Significance of the Christmas Tree
- It is the Symbol of Eternal Life
Starting in Germany in the 16th century, putting up a Christmas tree in your houses symbolized eternal life. It is also believed that after the birth of Jesus Christ, some of the trees shook off their snow and turned green to mark the great event in the winter season. Hence, the Christmas trees symbolize immortality and permanence.
- It Represents and Radiates Positivity
The Christmas tree has radiated positivity and cheerfulness for ages. It brings the spirit of optimism and hope in the otherwise dull, dark, and cold weather of the winter season. The Christmas tree symbolizes bravery and the courage of not giving up by standing firm even in the challenging and harsh weather conditions. And the oh-so-sweet fragrance emerging from these evergreen Christmas trees helps you relax and get relieved from everyday stress.
- The Mandatory Decor of the Trees
Earlier, people decorated their Christmas trees with food items like gingerbread, nuts, and apples. But today, the traditions have evolved, and people decorate trees with beautiful things like lights, candles, tinsels, candies, stockings, gold foils, stars, bells, artificial snowflakes, Santa puppets, and much more.
- It is the Perfect Place for Keeping Gifts
Christmas trees are the placeholders for gifts. It is said that Santa brings presents and leave them under the trees. People get giant trees and decorate them, making them the perfect spot for keeping gifts. Also, a Christmas tree by the fireplace is an excellent place to gather with your family and open your Christmas gifts.
The Meaning of Christmas Tree Decorations
We decorate our Christmas trees with a lot of ornaments and other things. As the significance of the Christmas trees, Christmas decorations have been passed down from generation to generation. But the interesting point to note is that every Christmas tree decoration symbolizes something different and unique.
- The lights on your Christmas tree represent the importance of knowledge and the warmth of family love.
- The red ornaments on your Christmas tree are believed to symbolize Jesus Christ’s blood or sacrifice.
- The ribbons signify the family ties binding all the family members together during the holiday season and all through the year.
- The bells at the side of the tree branches symbolize the joy and happiness of the merry day.
- The star at the top represents the shining hope for humanity. It also symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, which guided three wise men to baby Jesus.
- The candy canes represent the shepherd’s crook. The red stripes symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice and blood, and the white lines represent his purity.
- Wreaths are the epitome of eternal love and rebirth.
The First-Ever Christmas Bauble
It is believed that the first glass ornament was made by a glassblower, Hans Greiner, who couldn’t afford to buy apples to decorate his Christmas tree. So he decided on making his own glass apples. When other people saw these apples, they began ordering them and other glass ornaments resembling fruits and nuts. These glass apples turned into different shapes and embellishments with time, like the baubles used today to decorate Christmas trees.
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It’s that time of the year again! What time? The time of lights, positivity, festivity, cheer, gifts, and Christmas tree! Much more than the beauty and refreshing fragrance of a Christmas tree, it is bought into homes for its religious importance. Now that you understand the meaning and significance of the Christmas tree, it’s time to select a fresh pine or fir and decorate it for the festive season just around the corner. Yes, decorating a Christmas tree brings a lot of cheer and excitement, but the exchange of presents adds that extra spark to every celebration. So this Christmas, place your gifts for the people you adore under the Christmas tree.
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