Oh Tannenbaum

Monday, December 6, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court treats the Christmas tree as a secular symbol,* and that's what it is to many people. I'm certainly not going to take the opposite legal position: better to retain the "secular" Christmas tree than to have no Christmas symbols at all.

But we know better.

Although the Christmas tree has pagen roots, it has been a symbol of Christianity since at least the 1500s. The tradition appears to have gotten its start in or around Germany and was brought to the United States by German immigrants in the 1800s. (Some sources place its U.S. debut even earlier, crediting Hessian soldiers with introducing the Christmas tree during the American Revolution.)

So what is the religious symbolism?
  • Using a tree to celebrate Jesus' birth reminds us of this death on another tree.
  • Choosing a plant that is ever green reminds us that Christ lives eternally, and so will we if we believe in Him.
  • The top of the evergreen tree points toward heaven.
The lights on the tree also have Christian implications.
  • They shine like the star that shown over Bethlehem on the first Christmas.
  • And they honor Christ, who is the light of the world.
Is the Christmas tree a secular symbol? For some. But as you decorate your tree this year, I pray you will celebrate the One who is the reason for the season.

* County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Love this, Kathryn. A good reminder that everything we do to celebrate our christian holiday, that we need to keep in mind what our traditions really mean.


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