The Christmas Tree

Tree Blog

There is nothing better on a snowy night than to sit by the Christmas tree, all decorated, lit up and twinkling in the night. The reflection from the window of the lights makes it seem like there is another tree out yonder! There is something soothing and comforting about being in the presence of the tree representing rich traditions passed down through the centuries.

This started me thinking about the evergreen tree and wondering about its history and how it came to be that we now have it as a main staple in our homes at Christmas.  Throughout history many cultures treasured and worshiped evergreens. It started with the Egyptians, at the arrival of the winter solstice – December 21st. They would bring in green palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life’s triumph over death. The Romans also celebrated the winter solstice by decorating their homes with greens and lights. They too exchanged gifts; pastries for happiness, lights to lighten the journey through life and coins for prosperity. In Great Britain Druids also used evergreens for winter solstice rituals. They would place holly and mistletoes as symbols of everlasting life, and place evergreen branches over doorways to ward off evil spirits. The Germans during the middle ages brought the evergreen trees inside their homes. This is where our current tradition of the Christmas tree took root.

It was around the 1500’s that Martin Luther apparently began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. On his evening walk through the woods one crisp Christmas Eve, he was awe-stuck by snow-covered evergreens shimmering in the moonlight.  He came home and set up a small fir tree indoors, decorated with lit candles, and shared the story of what he saw with his small children.

If your family makes the trek out to find the perfect tree to bring home, or if you drag out the artificial tree from the garage or basement – during December the tree becomes the focal point of your home. Visitors come to deposit their wrapped boxes and families gather round. As we assemble by the tree for our gift exchanges and our family photos we are united through traditions across time.

Here is a poem I wrote – inspired by quiet reflection by my Christmas tree:

My Christmas tree

Nothing fancy about my tree

If you look at it you might agree

From the very tip of the top

The 13-year-old angel

Hand made with love

By my 10 year old angel

To the very toe of the bottom

Where the floor

Is embraced

By the tree skirt

Hand made with loving arms

By my mother

And In between

Each branch

Proudly adorned

With long ago

Memories

Crafty hand made ornaments

That stand the test of time

More precious than gold

Shine amidst the tinsel

With a story to be told

Gifts from your house to mine

Gifts from my house to yours

Have come and gone

But still the tree stands

Slightly tethered and worn

Bringing warmth and comfort

As the lights twinkle in the darkness

A testament to the silent nights

Waiting for the joy

That is Christmas morn

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