Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees – Symbol of Hope

Christmas Trees

Over the last few years I have seen more and more Christians question different Christmas traditions. One tradition that I have seen questioned is if Christians should have Christmas Trees. So we will try and find an answer to this. 

Like most people, each year my family puts together a Christmas tree. Each Christmas we put presents under the tree for our children to open when they wake up. 

My Wife LOVES to decorate and always does the tree up with LOTS of lights (1,000+) and decorations that coordinate. She crowns the top with an angel or other decorative items. She makes Christmas special and the tree is the center of the Christmas decorations. 

While, I was in college, each year the university would put on a MASSIVE tree lighting ceremony. One year, they even set out to break the world record for carolers (Which they did – Look up Caroling Record)

With all my involvement with the tradition of Christmas trees, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that people were questioning whether or not Christians should put up a Christmas Tree. 

So after hearing about it for a few years, I finally decided to look it up this year and find the answer to this question. 

Background to the Christmas Tree

I have found several different histories of where the Christmas Tree originated. 

Carolyn Roth, who has an amazing blog on plants in the Bible, shares that the Christmas tree originated in the 400s. They were part of plays that taught Biblical truths to children. The tree was linked to the story of creation as the paradise tree (tree of Life). Each tree was decorated, eventually being decorated with cookies but also with apples. The trees were a sign of everlasting life because of the evergreen leaves. 

A second point of history legend has it that when St Boniface was preaching the gospel to the German people in the 8th century. The story goes that while Boniface was preaching the Gospel, he came across some people worshipping an oak tree. He was so angry that he chopped the tree down. Some legends share that in its place was an evergreen tree. Throughout the years the evergreen tree was a became a sign of God’s everlasting love. 

A third legend of history involves Martin Luther. The story goes that one night as Martin was coming home, he looked up through the boughs of the fir tree (in Germany) and saw the stars. As he looked, he was reminded that Jesus left Heaven to come to earth and save mankind from sin. He then brought a fir tree inside. 

We do know that Christmas trees became popular in the early to mid-1800’s in England (via a Queen from Germany and a King from Germany) and quickly spread in popularity to the United States. Throughout the years some of the simple decorations became candles (to represent the light of  Christ). And candles turned to safer light bulbs and ornaments as we know them now

Christmas Trees Takeaways

From reading the above background, it is not clear were Christmas trees came from. But we can learn how to be intentional with why we have them and how we can teach about Christ using the Christmas Tree. 

  1. Evergreen – Symbolizes everlasting life through Christ. John 3:16 states that God gave us His son Jesus to give us eternal life to those who believe. When we become a Christian, we are given new life (2 Corinthians 5:17). This idea of new life and everlasting life is core to our walk as a Christian. As the evergreen trees give people hope that spring is coming, we should also be reminded of the hope that we have through the life that Christ gives to all who believe. 
  2. Ornaments – Were a way that people remember stories. Such as with the paradise tree, the covered the tree with apples. So, ornaments can remind us what Christ has done for us and offer us a way to make memories and keep them for future years. 
  3. Lights – For Martin Luther, it reminded him of Heaven where Jesus came down to earth. With time as lights were added, they were to remind people how Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). And how we are to be the light in our world (Matthew 5:13-16). 
  4. Angel on Top – Just as the angel brought the good news of great joy. We too are to share the GREAT news with others (Matthew 28:18-20). In fact, that is excactly what the shepherds did after seeing baby Jesus in the manger. They told others about Him. If you have a star on your tree, than can remind us of the star that showed the wisemen where Jesus was. Just as we are to show others the way to Christ.

Conclusion

At Christmas, we remember that God came to be With US (Isaiah 7:14) and bring peace to all through Christ. Through Him, we can all be saved from our sins and enter a relationship with the God who made us. Because of Christ, we can have hope for life and everlasting life through Jesus. And that is hope from a Christmas Tree!

I want to encourage you to share some of these takeaways with your family this year. So that others will know that a tree is not just about an evergreen tree but rather a tree that points to our savior Jesus. 

How do you decorate your tree? 

Here are some further research on the topic: 

https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca_Yx3aMCiE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfcvJWPTY64

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