By Margaret Ikladious: Christmas Treasures (4)


Margaret Ikladious

Christmas Treasures (4): The Christmas Tree

Written by Margaret Ikladious: Member of the American Press (USPA)

And if we want to complete the last parts of the Christmas treasures, we will talk today about some other symbols in the Christmas celebrations that spread around the world:

It is the one we are accustomed to seeing as evergreen, as it symbolizes, by its greenness, the initial life of Christ.

Today, most countries in the world celebrate decorating the New Year tree, which is the most common custom.

Just as people decorate their homes today during the festive season with pine trees, the ancient pagan peoples hung evergreen branches on their doors and windows.

It was believed in many countries that greenery would drive away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and diseases.

And as everyone knows, in the northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or 22 and is called the "winter solstice."

Many ancient people believed that winter came yearly because the "sun god" became sick and weak.

They celebrated the solstice because it meant that the sun god would finally begin to recover.

The evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow back when the sun god was strong, and summer returned.

And if we go to the tree's origin, we find that it dates back to the Pharaonic era. The ancient Egyptians were the first to celebrate Christmas and the Christmas tree, which was in the first month of Kiahk (the fourth month of the year when water is confined and greenery returns to the earth, symbolizing resurrection).

It celebrates the resurrection of Osiris after his death and his transformation, according to legend, into a green tree.

Therefore, one of this holiday's most important traditions is choosing an evergreen tree throughout the year as a symbol of renewed life.

Hence, this custom was transmitted from Egypt across the Mediterranean to appear in the feasts of the Romans.

As for the early Romans, they celebrated the solstice because they knew that farmers and orchards would soon become green and fruitful.

They decorated their homes and temples with evergreen branches to celebrate this occasion.

They used the shepherd's tassel tree or bag as part of the Indomitable Sun Christmas decorations.

In northern Europe, the ancient priests decorated their temples with evergreen branches to symbolize eternal life.

Then Christianity came and took from its leaves with thorns, a symbol of Christ's wreath, and its red fruit, a character of his blood.

The needle-like shape of the tree, which is directed upwards, symbolizes the prayers directed toward the sky.

In Rome, people used to decorate houses and balconies on the occasion of the celebrations that begin in the last week of the year.

In Athens, the celebrations revolved around a tree in the middle of the city called the World Tree.

In the celebration of Christmas, the tree is chosen from among the trees that maintain their greenness throughout the year, such as spruce, cypress, or pine.

The idea of the tree began to spread in abundance and various forms by Pope Boniface in Germany in Europe from the sixteenth century.

Germany has a major role in spreading the green Christmas tree.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we know it now when Christians brought decorative trees to their homes.

It was initially decorated with red apples, roses, and cloth ribbons.

It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to add and light the Christmas tree with candles.!!!

He was heading towards his house on a dark winter evening close to the Christmas season and discovered the beauty of the bright starlight through the branches of the little spruce tree outside his home and was amazed at the brilliance of the twinkling stars amidst all that green.

  And to restore the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and covered its branches with lit candles to simulate what he saw outside..!!

With the idea of ​​decoration invented by Martin Luther, trees began to be decorated in their modern form in all of Germany until they became a tradition associated with Christmas.

After that, evergreen trees became part of Christian rituals in Germany, and in the Middle Ages, "Christmas trees" began to appear there.

The first tree mentioned in a document preserved to this day was in Strasbourg in the year 1605.

But the first huge tree was the one that was erected in the royal palace in England in the year 1840.

When Germans immigrated, they took Christmas trees to other countries, especially England.

And there in the seventies of the eighteenth century, Charlotte, the wife of King George III, who was born in Germany, was decorating the trees on the occasion of the feast.

However, the German-born Prince Albert and his wife, Queen Victoria of Britain, spread the tradition among the British, as the couple made Christmas trees a prominent part of the Christmas celebrations.

In 1848, an illustration of the royal family about a decorated tree appeared in a London newspaper. Christmas trees quickly became common in English homes.

After that, German settlers also introduced Christmas trees to the United States, although this custom was not embraced initially.

Many Puritans opposed the idea because of its pagan roots, and Massachusetts Bay Colony officials banned the celebration of Christmas.

It was in the 1820s that Christmas began to gain popularity in America..!!!

It is said that the first Christmas tree in the country was displayed in the 1830s.

The Christmas tree became popular with the help of the influential magazine Goody's Ladies Book, which 1850 published an illustration of the British royal family in 1848.

But changing the family image to look American and other efforts helped Christmas trees were common in the United States by the 1870s.

After that, Christmas trees spread worldwide and varied between real pine trees and fake trees that are less expensive and less harmful to the environment.


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