Tinsel on the Tree

Advent stories and messages from around the world

“Tinsel on the Tree”

December 17, 2021

Matthew 2:13-18; Hosea 11:1; Jeremiah 31:15

When I was a kid, one of the musts for decorating your tree was tinsel.

It came in rectangular boxes with a couple thousand silver metal strands to hang on your tree.

Several stories or legends concerning tinsel being used on the Christmas tree exist.

One of the stories actually has a Christian background. Mary and the baby Jesus supposedly narrowly escape the Roman soldiers sent by Herod to kill baby Jesus. So, Mary hid in a cave, trying to avoid their capture and the inevitable death of her newborn son. After Mary and the baby entered the cave, spiders sealed the entrance with webbing. When the soldiers came by and noticed that the opening to the cave had undisturbed spider webs at its entrance, they simply passed it by.

Since then, tinsel has been put on trees to commemorate what the spiders did that day.

Another legend describes a family whose tree had been covered with spider webs after being brought into their home. But Father Christmas showed up that night while the family was sleeping and changed the spider webs into sparkling silver strands.

(Excerpts taken from bugoftheweek.com)

Interestingly enough, the tinsel my family put on the trees when I was a kid was banned in 1971, as it contained high amounts of lead and was toxic.


The story of Mary and Jesus escaping the Romans is actually, partially true.

This is what happened after the wise men left the home of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So, he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Hosea 11:1

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

As you can see from the reading, Mary and the baby Jesus did escape the clutches of the Roman soldiers. This happened after an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take his family and leave for Egypt.

Unfortunately, their leaving did not preclude the horrible actions that a misguided Herod ordered in an attempt to stop the child from someday gaining power. All male children under the age of two in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas were ordered to be killed.

Some theologians believe that thousands of children were slaughtered after Herod’s orders were given. But that number would be much too large as Bethlehem was a small hamlet of about 300 people. Today many religious leaders believe it was more like 30-40 male children were killed.

The numbers aren’t important; many families lost a child because of the tyranny of Herod.

Yes, Jesus and His family did escape capture and certain death. However, they did not return to their homeland until after the death of Herod.

God had a plan, and part of it was for Jesus’ family to escape, so He might live and return to begin His ministry at a later date and fulfill God’s promise.

Dear Lord, it’s a horrible story. Children were put to death because Herod believed Your Son was a threat to Him. We know that Your Son is not a threat but a blessing. He is the promised Messiah, the chosen one, who came to earth to give His life to save ours. Thank you for sending Jesus to rescue us. Amen.

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