Xmas tree at the heart of Christmas
Christmas celebrations include spending time with the family, decorating the entire house, inside and out and shopping, for friends and relatives.
Spending Christmas with family is very important. On this day, all family members spend time baking cookies and preparing a big Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings. The children love to see each other and spend the day playing games and sharing their new gifts and toys that ‘Santa Claus’ or ‘Father Christmas’ brought for each of them.
Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God.
The name ‘Christmas’ comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). A Mass service (which is sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) is where Christians remember that Jesus died for us and then came back to life. The ‘Christ-Mass’ service was the only one that was allowed to take place after sunset (and before sunrise the next day), so people had it at Midnight! So we get the name Christ-Mass, shortened to Christmas.
Christmas day is a holiday shared and celebrated by one and all.
It is a day that has an effect on the entire world, causing people to decorate their homes and churches, cut down trees and bring them into their homes, decking them with silver and gold. Christmas celebrations and decorations will not be complete without the Christmas Tree.
The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is an evergreen trimmed with lights, decorations, and tinsel is derived from a “paradise tree”, or the tree in the Garden of Eden. The use of the Christmas tree began early in the 16th century, in Strasbourg, France, spreading from there through Germany and then into northern Europe.
History of Christmas Trees
The history of Christmas trees goes back to the symbolic use of evergreens in ancient Egypt and Rome and continues with the German tradition of candlelit Christmas tree.
How Did Christmas Trees Start?
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants, and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries, it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year fall on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last, the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from his illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes, which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon, farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
In Northern Europe, the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.
Christmas Trees From Germany
Many Christmas traditions practiced around the world today started in Germany.
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if the wood was scarce.
Another legend says that in the early 16th century, people in Germany combined two customs that had been practiced in different countries around the globe. The Paradise tree (a fir tree decorated with apples) represented the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The Christmas Light, a small, pyramid-like frame, usually decorated with glass balls, tinsel and a candle on top, was a symbol of the birth of Christ as the Light of the World. Changing the tree’s apples to tinsel balls and cookies and combining this new tree with the light placed on top, the Germans created the tree that many of us know today.
Christmas Trees In The Northern Hemisphere
Christmas trees are bought anytime in December and decorated with colored lights, tinsel, and baubles. Some people favor the angel on top of the tree, others the star. The house is decorated with garlands, candles, holly, and ivy. Wreaths and mistletoe are hung on the door.
Most people buy Christmas trees well before Christmas Eve, but it’s not common to take the tree inside and decorate it until just a few days before. Evergreen trees are decorated with stars, sunbursts, and snowflakes made from straw. Other decorations include colorful wooden animals and straw centerpiece
Modern Tannenbaum (Christmas trees) are traditionally decorated in secret with lights, tinsel and ornaments by parents and then lit and revealed on Christmas Eve with cookies, nuts and gifts under its branches.
Christmas Trees in the United States and Canada
German settlers migrated to the United States and Canada in the 1700s. They brought with them many of the things associated with Christmas we cherish today—Advent calendars, gingerbread houses, cookies—and Christmas trees. When Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, put up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle in 1848, the Christmas tree became a tradition throughout England, the United States, and Canada and the sphere of British influence.
Christmas Trees in Italy and the Latin World
In Italy, the presepio (manger or crib) represents in miniature the Holy Family in the stable and is the center of Christmas for families. Guests kneel before it and musicians sing before it. The presepio figures are usually hand-carved and very detailed in features and dress. The scene is often set out in the shape of a triangle. It provides the base of a pyramid-like structure called the ceppo. Christmas Trees in the Tropics
Although Christmas falls during the summer in the tropics, sometimes pine trees are decorated with little pieces of cotton that represent falling snow.
The tradition of gifting is the most important custom attached to Christmas. To many people, it is a favorite time of the year involving gift-giving, parties, and feasting.
The exchange of Christmas gifts is a cause for much wild excitement and celebration. Thus, gift-giving and merriment fill the holiday season of Christmas. Gifts are left under the tree on Christmas morning for the children. Parents and adults also exchange gifts.
The Christmas Bells form an integral part of the festival. In the Catholic and the Anglican churches, the service begins at sunset and any service delivered after sunset is regarded as the first service and is indicated by the ringing of bells.
Christmas Day Angels
The Christmas angels form an integral part of celebrations and there are many stories that revolve around them.
History of Christmas tree Angels:
Angels played a crucial role during the birth of Christ that is the first Christmas. Gabriel, who is the Archangel announced to Mother Mary that she would be the mother of Lord Jesus Christ. Another angel appeared in Josephâ€™s dream to tell him he would be the father of Jesus. Innumerable angels hovered in the sky of Bethlehem to proclaim the arrival of Lord Jesus on earth as the Saviour of the world. Due to the important role played by angels in the first Christmas, they occupied a prominent place right at the top of the Christmas tree.
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