Getting a Christmas tree during Christmas is a common modern practice. The Christmas tree is actually an ancient tradition that was practiced by Egyptians, Romans, the early Christians and also during the Victorian era.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Trees of Christmas Past
- 2 The Symbolism
- 3 The Symbolism Of The Christmas Tree Decorations
The Trees of Christmas Past
However, according to most scholars, the Christmas tree originated from Germany. It is said that during the middle ages, the Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees within their homes or outside their doors to show their hope for the coming spring. It could be said that it was a symbol of better times or seasons.
In the 1840s and 50s, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made the Christmas tree popular because they were known to decorate the tree during Christmas.
Because the English loved their queen, they went ahead and copied her Christmas traditions complete with the Christmas tree and the ornaments.
Most of the cultures that practiced the Christmas tree tradition often brought it home during the winter solstice. The Christmas tree often symbolized life in the midst of death in various cultures. Devout Christians have for a long time brought home decorated trees into their homes.
In the past, they used edibles like apples, nuts, and other delicious foods then later they started using candles which were later replaced by Christmas lights when electrification came into the scene.
Today we decorate the Christmas tree with decorations like tinsel, garland, candy canes apart from the lights. An angel or star is often placed at the top of the tree as a representation of angel Gabriel or the famous star of Bethlehem.
So why have people across cultures been excited about the Christmas tree for various reasons? It is because the Christmas tree holds a certain symbolism for many. Some of the common Christmas tree symbolism is as follows.
A Symbol Of Life
The Christmas tree is the only evergreen tree during winter. It thrives and stays green even during the coldest of winter when all plant life is dead or dormant.
The green against the grey and white winter is a sign of life and therefore hope. Some people see this tree as the tree of life and honestly, it makes sense.
Symbol Of Hope
With a Christmas tree standing majestically and looking evergreen during winter, many people within cultures around the world view it as a symbol of hope for better things in the future.
The harsh winter and such a beautiful tree thriving can be interpreted by some people as a hope’s existence even amidst the harsh realities of life.
Many look at this tree as a reminder of all good things that might come about in the future as a result of their current unpleasant situation.
Symbol Of Survival
Many have also viewed this tree as a symbol of rebirth and strength that is required to endure harsh winter months. The tree stays green despite being bombarded by low temperatures and cold winds.
Some have actually been known to compare the resilience of this tree against the onslaught of winter to their own survival to major life problems that they might have experienced.
Symbol Of Protection
It is a common pagan belief that depicts this tree as an evergreen. It is widely believed that this tree acts as a strong force against evil spirits that are usually more active during the cold winter months.
The evergreen was then lighted up with candles because they believed that the tree will “light up” the darkest, coldest conditions and successfully keep the evil and naughty spirits at bay.
Symbol Of New Beginnings.
When the fir sprouts and become the huge tree, there are cultures around the world that associate it with new beginnings.
After winter and Christmas were over the fir trees were burned as a symbol of new beginnings. It shows the end of an old year and the beginning of another.
As commonly associated with the new year, new beginnings take place. People are known to start over or do things differently courtesy of a new year.
A Symbol Of Christianity.
Only in the 19th century do we see Christianity embracing the bright, cherry symbolism of the Christmas tree. The Christians looked at this evergreen fir as a symbol of the Tree of Life.
The Early Christians took their symbolism seriously which is why they added candles and apples to their Christmas trees.
The candles were a sign of the light of Christ while the apples symbolized the knowledge of good and evil which came to be after the first one’s original sin in the garden of Eden.
On this tree, the light of Christ absolves the “fall of mankind” within the immortal symbol of the Christmas tree.
Because of such a strong belief of the early 19th century Christians, today most Christian homes have a Christmas tree during the season of Christmas.
Today many Christians also view the tree as a symbol of hope, promise, strength, endurance, determination, rebirth and protection.
A Symbol Of Success
For some people, the Christmas tree has nothing to do with their religious beliefs. Just the fact that they are able to afford a tree during Christmas and able to decorate it then they view the presence of the tree in their home as a symbol of success.
They view it as a symbol of the great accomplishments that they have managed throughout the year. In most cases, the tree could be a symbol of their great successes in various aspects of their lives.
The Symbolism Of The Christmas Tree Decorations
As we have seen above the tree is significant in the lives of many Christians and pagans alike but what of the decorations on the tree?
They too have special meaning and no doubt symbolize something great. Those candy canes and tinsel are not just for the sake of decorating, they definitely symbolize something.
Christmas Tree Star
Remember the birth of Jesus and how a huge star pointed towards Bethlehem and guided the three wise men as the biblical story says?
Well. The star on the Christmas, of course, a symbol of shining hope for a better life just as long time ago in Bethlehem, it was the shining hope indicator for mankind because its savior was born.
Before electricity was invented, there was the candle which was a mirror of the starlight and also represented the Star of Bethlehem.
Families in the past would use candles to light up the tree. The candle was a symbol of shining hope of a better life just as the star is.
The Gifts With A Bow
The gifts with a bow are of course a representation of how back then the birth of Jesus resulted in gifts from the wise men. The gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh given to the newborn are represented by the gifts with a bow on the tree.
The ribbon tied around a gift is s symbol of unity and goodwill that should always prevail during the special Christmas holiday.
The Red And Green Colors
The color red is used at Christmas as a representation of the blood of Jesus during his crucifixion. The red is also represented in the color of holly berries which have also been known to depict pagan symbolism during the winter solstice celebrations back in ancient Rome.
The green color which is the color of the tree is a great symbol of eternal life. The Romans back then used the evergreen branches during the New Year as a sign of life that continued during winter.
There is also this legend that talks about how when Jesus Christ was born during winter, the trees around the world shook off the snow to reveal the new shoots of green.
The bells are of course common during Christmas and make a great part of the Christmas tree decoration. The bells are rung during Christmas in order to proclaim the arrival of the seasons and also as a great announcement of the birth of Jesus. Pagan winter celebrations also featured these bells as a way of driving away any lingering evil spirits during winter.
The candy canes on the tree is a symbol of a Shepherd’s crook. Jesus is commonly referred to as the Good Shepherd that was born on Christmas.
His birth is the great plan of God to bring lost lambs back together. The red strip in the candy canes is a symbol of the blood of Jesus while the white in them is a symbol of purity.
The Tinsel and Christmas Spider
In case you see a spider decoration on someone’s Christmas tree, do not think them odd. Well, the spider on the tree is a symbol of bad things that turn beautiful.
According to the story behind the Christmas spider, there was a woman who thoroughly cleaned her house on Christmas day.
The house spiders then got swept to the farthest reaches of the home. The spiders actually heard of the beautiful Christmas tree in the home and crawled back to look.
The spiders saw the tree and loved it very much and they actually danced all over it. The spiders then left their webs behind which resulted in baby Jesus, Father Christmas or Santa Clause miraculously transforming the beautiful webs into silver and gold tinsel to prevent the woman from getting dismayed.
That is why today it has become quite common to include a spider among the Christmas tree decorations.
The Christmas Tree continues to hold special meaning in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians today. For most, it is not just a home decoration for Christmas but a symbol of all things good during the season.
As we have seen above the symbolism behind the Christmas Tree and its decorations are quite fascinating. What symbolism does the Christmas Tree hold for you today?
Thank you for taking the time to read this article !