Let’s remember that any plants or trees that remained green all year long have had a special meaning to ALL people in the winter months. This is way before the advent of Christianity.
Winter solstice celebrations, the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Tree and the tradition of Queen Victoria all have special meaning regardless of religion.
During a time in our world where we all seem to have ‘lost our way’, the beauty of this illuminated tree should bring us back to the beauty of life. Remember that the green, fresh trees who survive a harsh winter tell a strong tale.
In Egyptians homes when people were ill, they filled their homes with green palm leaves which symbolized the triumph of life over death.
Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. Even back then they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
In Northern Europe, priests of ancient Celts decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The Vikings did the same.
It was the Germans who get the credit for the Christmas tree tradition. Read any book on Victorian times and it will tell the story of how devout Christians in the 16th Century brought decorated trees into their homes. Most 19th century Americans actually thought these trees were odd and didn’t embrace it immediately.
After doing some research, I found the record of the first tree on display was in 1830 by German settlers in Pennsylvania. Christmas trees were still not accepted by most Americans until around the late 1800’s.
Finally, by the 1890's Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and American’s had embraced the tradition of the Christmas tree and its meaning. As in true American fashion, the American trees reached to the ceiling while the British trees were simple and smaller.
Keep in mind during this festive season that there is so much to celebrate in life and an evergreen tree reminds us to stay fresh and free!