By Gift Wogu
Few holidays are anticipated as Christmas. Apart from the two day holiday that comes with it, the yuletide season is often filled with excitement and joy. You don’t even have to be Christian to get into the groove.
About this time several people would have set up Christmas trees with all the sparkly lights and baubles to decorate their homes. Even organizations have decorated their buildings; and some major roads- have anybody been to Ajose Adeogun in Victoria Island, Lagos? Wow’s the word!
Regardless of the economic situations, Christmas is often marked with joy and glee. But have you ever thought about the origin of the Christmas tree? You may be surprised that it actually has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ!
About one thousand years ago, the tradition of hanging fir trees in the house started among traditional worshippers in Europe (better known as pagans). With the belief set in nature, they kept the tree in the summer to remind them of the forthcoming spring. Generally, the tree was regarded as a symbol of life everywhere from Britain to Roma to China and parts of ancient Israel.
Over the next two hundred years, as Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, traditional customs were absorbed as part of the Christian rituals. Early Christians though, fought these traditions as they knew for sure that Christ had nothing to do with it. But not for long…
In Germany, the origin of Christmas tree can be traced to Saint Boniface. He encountered some pagans who were about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He cut down the tree to prevent the sacrifice and a Fir tree grew up at the base of the oak tree. He then told everyone that his lovely evergreen, with its branches pointing to heaven, was a holy tree, the tree of Christ’s child and a symbol of his promise for eternal life.
In England, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert popularized the Christmas tree. Prince Albert decorated a tree and ever since then, the English people who love everything Queen Victoria does copy her Christmas customs.
Another legend points Martin Luther as the originator of the Christmas tree. According to them, on Christmas Eve, he was walking through the snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of the snow glistened trees. The moonlight made the tree more beautiful. He went home and decorated the Christmas trees with more candles.
By the beginning on the twentieth century, the idea of the Christmas tree- along with the silver and shiny decorations that it comes with- had travelled round the world and had been adopted as the unofficial symbol of Christmas. As the industrial age blossomed, synthetic trees began to be manufactured and used, instead of the actual tree that would wither in some climes- like Nigeria for example.
However, the origins of this tradition matter little to the modern world and why should it? ‘Tis the season to be jolly!
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