Reflections of the Christmas Tree.
We buy and decorate Christmas trees. Why? When did this start?
Apparently in the 1400s and 1500s in Europe. White pine trees have been used for millennia to celebrate various things, Christians began using the pine tree as a sign of the Everlasting God.
My Christmas tree and a reflection thereof can be seen in the thermal image to the right.
The word "Christmas" comes from a religious meeting, Christ's Masse, meaning "Christ's celebration." So the tree, as a decoration thereof, would be a simple way to decorate a holiday such in such an honorable way.
Apparently no one knows when fir trees were first used for the celebration. And originally they were hung upside down!
The first documented use of Christmas trees was in Tallinn, Estonia in 1441 and Riga, Latvia, in 1550. In Riga there is a plaque which proclaims a location as that of the first Christmas tree. Read about it on the link here.
Obviously the custom of decorating Christmas trees, and bringing them into the house, spread throughout Europe, and from there throughout the world.
Christmas trees were first decorated with small, edible things. Then glass makers began to design and produce ornaments.
Early on, apparently, a small cradle with the baby Jesus was placed on top of the tree. Then that changed to an angel representing the announcement to the shepherds. And from there a large star at the top of the tree became prevalent, obviously representing the Star of Bethlehem.
Prince Albert and Queen Victoria brought a Christmas tree into Windsor Castle, and an article about this was published in the Illustrated London News. Anything Victorian was popular in the United States and the custom spread here. You can read one of my previous blogs about this history by clicking here.
And lights on the tree? In 1880 Thomas Edison put a string of lights around his workshop, and in 1882 an employee of his, Edward Johnson, fashioned a string of 80 red, white and blue lights and put them on his Christmas tree. Electric lights on the tree became popular when in 1895 President Grover Cleveland put a string of lights on the White House Christmas tree. The National Christmas Tree tradition began when President Calvin Coolidge decorated a tree on the White House lawn in 1923.
Symbolism surrounding the tree is rife, with lights representing the stars in the sky which accompanied the Star of Bethlehem; ornaments on the tree and the presents under it can represent the gifts given by the Three Wisemen to the baby Jesus; the tree itself representing the humble Carpenter who fashioned things out of trees, and was eventually hung on one.
Whatever you do to celebrate Christmas is still the same - the decorations, the food, the gifts, and the worship - it is up to you. But keep in mind, it all reflects back to the Carpenter whose birth is noted at this time. Whether He was born in December (the Roman 10th month) or not is irrelevant. That He was born is the important thing, and it is this time of year that this great day is remembered.