As Christmas is nearing, little children are cheering, prices are up but buying is soaring, kitchens are buzzing, and hearts are swelling. Soon, Christmas will be in full celebration. Already, people are gathering, hopefully safely, with loved ones but what is everyone celebrating? I hope we are gathering to recognize and worship the celestial birth of Jesus. I realize that not all people celebrate Christmas in the same way we in the Christian faith do, but I hope everyone celebrates that spirit of love and giving gifts as a sign of goodwill. But for us and our house, it is a time to gather the family together and display the love Our Savior made possible for us to feel.
I like to research the history and why we have certain customs and trends related to holidays and events. I found this article on the history and origination of the tree. What I found interesting were the analogy of the structure and decorating of the tree. I knew we decorated trees from all of my memories but this is the first time I see it as it is depicted as a symbol of Christmas. The author’s name and link is at the end of her excerpt:
When you think of Christmas Day, one of the first images that comes to mind is the Christmas tree. But what is the religious significance? While there is no overt reference to an evergreen treen in relation to the actual birth story of Christ, believers have attached religious meaning to the once pagan symbol.
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The Choice of the Evergreen
The evergreen tree is a tree that maintains its color throughout the year. Even in the depths of winter, the evergreen tree shows its life. This characteristic of everlasting life represents the life we have in Christ (John 3:16).
The Shape of the tree
The triangular shape of the Christmas tree has often been used to reference the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:18-19). The upward pointing branches often symbolize our praise to God.
The Lights on the tree
For many Christians, candles or lights on the tree signify how Jesus came as the light into the world. The star placed atop the tree represents the star the wise men followed to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:9).
Presents Under the tree
For some, presents under the tree represent the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). For others, the presents represent the gift of salvation we have through Jesus (Romans 3:21-22).
The Cutting of the Tree
When the evergreen tree is cut, it is struck down to its death, only to be raised to glory in splendor as a decorated Christmas tree. This transformation of the tree symbolizes how Jesus died on a tree and was raised to new life on the third day.
Should Christians Have Christmas Trees in Their Homes?
While most people never really think about the history or the practice of putting up a Christmas tree, some Christians do not celebrate the season with an evergreen. Here are a few reasons why.
- Jeremiah 10:1-5 – In this passage of Scripture, the Lord speaks through the prophet and tells the people to not adhere to the idolatrous practice of cutting down trees and decorating them with gold and silver.
- Pagan Historical Associations – Some families do not place Christmas trees in their home because of the pagan origins. They instead opt for other decorations, such as a nativity to remind them of the birth of Christ.
- Distraction from Jesus – Some Christians do not place a tree in their home because the gifts and glamour take away from the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
If we take an honest look at the tradition of the Christmas tree, the roots and religious symbolism is not overwhelmingly representative of the birth of Christ. Yet, the biblical arguments against it are not vast either. The principle derived from Jeremiah 10:1-5 is to not participate in idolatry. The cultural practice of the passage happened to be the cutting and decorating of trees.
Ultimately, the choice to celebrate with a Christmas tree during the holidays is a personal one. While many people do focus more on the dazzling aspects of the celebration, there can be beauty in the symbolism. First Corinthians 10:31 states, “So, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This passage gives us freedom to choose to celebrate the birth of Christ in a way we will connect to God most intimately. Yet, as we choose in freedom how to celebrate, let us remember to offer grace to those who choose to celebrate differently.
About The Author
Cortney Whiting is a wife and mom of two preteens. She received her Master of Theology Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. After serving in the church for nearly 15 years, Cortney currently teaches at a Christian school and writes for various Christian ministries. You can find her at her blog, https://recapturefaith.com.
As a blogger and not a theologian, I am not an expert of the history but I know I decorate as part of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I want the holiday to be a big to do about Our Savior. I love watching the little ones all aglow with the innocence only children possess. I enjoy spoiling people and showering them with love. I have enjoyed the love from Our Savior as you have and want to share that great feeling. May your Christmas be bright, may the love of God and His Only Begotten Son fill your hearts with kindness and charity. May you find peace and joy in your life and soul on Christmas Day and every day as Christ came in this world for more than just one day; he came for us to feel His Unconditional Love Every Day! Whether you participate, please know Christ loves you and everyone else.
(C) Copyright Arline Miller of Sipping Cups of Inspiration with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced to the original location/author if known for credit references.