Christmas day is over and soon people everywhere will be taking down their Christmas trees and putting away their decorations. At times, I ask myself, what is the significance of the Christmas tree? I mean I know it is a tradition, but how is it biblical? Different people decorate the tree in different ways, and I have always wondered why. I mean to say that there is so much significance tossed onto a tree. Like the tinsel, ornaments, and lights. Some families spend hours stringing popcorn and candy for an added decoration, but what is the significance of popcorn? In my Jewish upbringing, I knew of people in my family that were Christians. My aunt in Austin, Texas, practiced in a Lutheran church and we would travel to Austin for Christmas dinner. Sometimes we had dinner at our house and my aunt, cousins, and my great-grandmother would come over for baked chicken or roasted turkey. We never had a Christmas tree, but my sisters and I did receive Christmas presents at Christmas on the couch. One cushion was for Julie, my oldest sister, then my gifts were placed on the middle cushion, the next cushion for Laurie, the second oldest in the family. My dad pulled out an old camera with a big bright flash to record us little ones opening our gifts. We also lit the candles for Hanukkah, but the gifts came mostly on Christmas.
Considering the reason we celebrate Christmas and the only tree I know of in the Bible was the one that Jesus hung on to pay for our sins, I felt the need to read the history of the Christmas tree. I’ve discovered that it is tradition and it started in Germany in the seventh century from a monk who traveled there from Devonshire to teach the word of God. He spent much time there, where, legend has it, he used the triangular shape of the fir tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The people in that town revered the oak, but by the twelfth century the fir tree was used at Christmas time “hung upside-down from ceilings as a symbol of Christianity.” (Christmasarchives.com.) In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas tree with candles to show children how the stars shined through a dark night. As the years progressed, more and more people decorated trees with tinsel and ornaments and whatever else they decided to decorated it with.
Personally I never had a tree; however, people I’ve known through the years have encouraged me to get one. I wasn’t sure why I should, especially since I never found anything biblical, but now that I know Christ, and if I ever were to decorate a tree, I would put a crucifix on the very top to remind me that Jesus was born to give me life and he died on that tree to give me everlasting life. Speaking of everlasting life, the tree itself would be a healthy green as a symbol of life. I would put white lights around the tree to symbolize the stars; pictures of my friends and family because Jesus died and gave the gift of life to them as well. Next I would hang red ornaments to symbolize the drops of blood that came from Jesus’ hands and feet and side that paid the ransom of our lives that we would not be among the living if that point in history didn’t happen. That is the significance of Christmas for me.
Christmas should be a time of remembrance of what he did for us. Santa Claus, snowmen, or sleighs with flying reindeer never brought me closer to Jesus. Everyone longs for a hero and I guess believing in a Santa Clause gives people hope. Now that my hope and faith is in Jesus and he is my hero, I can look upon all the materialism of Christmas as symbolic of humanity lost in false hope. The real hope and assurance is in Jesus, who gave us the best gift ever: salvation. No other hero could ever do that. There are other heroes in the Bible, mighty men and women of faith to look up to, but Jesus can never be looked upon as just a hero. My Christmas tree and its decorations would mean more than just humanity’s colorful display of materialism. It would become a display of Christ’s love.