Is Christmas Tree a Religious Symbol?
Christmas is the time of joy, happiness, and celebration for Christians worldwide. Decorating a Christmas tree has been a festive trend since ancient times and, without it, the celebrations are lifeless. A long time ago, evergreen trees were used as seasonal winter decor. Later, they occupied a special place in Christmas celebrations.
But how did the Christmas trees become a holiday tradition? Is the Christmas tree a religious symbol? What is the meaning of the Christmas tree in the Bible? If you are curious to know the answers, this post is especially for you. Let’s discover all about the history of the Christmas tree in this article.
What Is the Origin of Christmas Tree?
No one is sure about the exact origin of the Christmas tree. However, using plants for religious purposes has roots in ancient Egyptian culture. The worshipers of the sun God, Ra, used to celebrate the recovery of their god from dark winter in the peak summer months. For this purpose, they brought green palm rushes to their homes. They symbolized the plants as the triumph of life over death in the world.
Later, Romanian people celebrated their feast, Saturnalia, by decorating homes with green branches of evergreen trees. In Northern Europe, priests decorated temples with evergreen branches to symbolize eternal life. Some studies claim that Latvia and Estonia were the homes of the first Christmas tree.
In the 1500s, German Christians decorated trees or simply pyramid-shaped wood stacks in their homes. They also used candles for decoration in later years. Until the late 1700s and early 1500s, Americans didn’t adopt tree decoration since they considered it pagan culture. However, when the Irish and German immigrants settled in America, they settled their own traditions. In the late 18th century, when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were shown standing by a Christmas tree in an illustration, the tree decoration trend gained popularity quickly.
What Christmas Tree Symbolizes?
Mostly, a question arises in most of us: What does the Christmas tree symbolize? Christmas tree is actually the symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ and the rising of the dead Jesus on the day of judgment. However, the tree’s branches depict the symbol of immortality and illustrate Christ’s thorns on the cross.
Back in history, the sun worshipers celebrated the recovery of their god Ra from dark winter months. For that purpose, they decorated their homes with green palm rushes. They symbolized the decor with the triumph of life over death.
Later in Romanian culture, people decorated their homes with evergreen branches for Saturnalia. They believed that these branches would result in more production in the fields. So, you can associate that the Christmas tree as a symbol of upcoming joys and happiness in one’s life.
Now, you and your kids love to wear the accessories with printed Christmas trees. You think that it is a religious symbol, but in fact, it’s not.
What Does Bible say About a Christmas Tree?
Here’s what Bible says, Jeremiah 10:1-5:
"Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the LORD: Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.”
You might think that the verse refers to the Christmas tree. But the closer examination of the verse shows that God is asking us to avoid worshiping idols.
As you all know, the birth of the Christmas event took place years after the Bible. Also, the origin of a Christmas tree is even years after the Christmas celebrations started. Therefore, the Bible doesn’t say anything about a Christmas tree. So, you can’t consider it a religious symbol.
The Christmas tree has evolved from ancient Germans and then came to America after the Germans settled there. It symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ and his raising back to life on the day of Judgment.
Though several ancient cultures symbolized home decoration with evergreens as a positive sign of productivity, It is not a religious symbol. Also, Bible doesn’t say anything about Christmas trees; since Christmas celebrations gained popularity later years after the Bible. Instead, it focuses more on worshiping God and avoiding idolatry.