A Short History of the Christmas Tree

Advent stories and messages from around the world

“A short history of the Christmas Tree”

December 13, 2021

Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:1-2

The Christmas tree tradition as we know it today began in the 16th century. But, the use of evergreens for decorations and worship goes back much further.

The Druids, who lived in what is now England and France from the 3rd century B.C. till the 2nd century A.D., decorated their temples with boughs made of evergreens as a symbol of everlasting life.

The Vikings worshiped evergreens, as they believed it to be a unique plant from the sun god, Balder.

Then there is the story of St. Boniface. In the 8th century, he traveled through southern Germany when he came upon some pagans. These pagans weren’t just unbelievers, but they had a horrible yearly ritual. Each year they would sacrifice a person, usually a child, to Thor, the god of thunder. (Marvel studios must hate this story), at the base of a tree known as the Thunder Oak. St. Boniface arrived on the scene just as they were about to sacrifice a child with a hammer (as you know, Thor swings a hammer). Boniface stopped the people and swung an ax to fell the tree. But, just as he did so, a great wind came up and uprooted the tree, which broke into four pieces.

Supposedly the wood from the Thunder Oak was used to build a chapel. Then next to the fallen oak, an evergreen sprouted up, and Boniface called it the tree of the Christ child.

I have also read many years ago that Boniface started the tradition of bringing an evergreen indoors. People would hang it upside down from the ceiling (I once read this was to keep rats out of it), and people would gather around it and share gifts.

Although the trees we see today point straight up to heaven, the trees that were hung upside down in Boniface’s time were sometimes called the trinity tree. Each corner of the tree represented one of the Blessed Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

As I said earlier, our modern-day Christmas tree dates back to the 16th century in Germany. Christians brought trees into their homes and decorated them. Martin Luther is credited with adding lighting to the modern-day Christmas tree.

But that is a story I’ll save for tomorrow 😊

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The Bible talks about our Triune God many times throughout it. Other times it is inferred that all three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, are present.

Here are just a few references to our Triune God.”

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” 1 Peter 1:1-2

Three Distinct persons in our one God.

God the Father, the Creator of all things, instituted the Law we call the Ten Commandments.

God the Son, Jesus Christ. Sent to earth where He accomplished many things, like teaching, healing, feeding many, and showing us how to put others first by serving them. Yet, Christ’s ultimate goal was to die on a cross for our sins. So that we may have eternal life.

Last but certainly not least, God the Holy Spirit. He came to live as promised by Jesus, within the Apostles at Pentecost. He now lives within us from the moment we are baptized. The Holy Spirit guides us on the path set before us before we were born. He also disciplines up and encourages us to get back on that path when we stray.

The next time you look at your Christmas tree, look at it as a triangle, with each corner representing one part of the triune God. Don’t be afraid to make the sign of the cross and say; In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Take time today to praise our Triune God, and thank Him for the many blessings we receive each day.

Thank you, Lord, for being our mighty God, who is three persons in one. You are our Creator, our Savior, and our guide throughout life. Thank you for all you do for us each day and the many blessings you supply. Amen.

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