Written By – Manish Khatri
The festival of Christmas represents joy and festivity. Celebrated on the 25th of December each year, it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity. The festival symbolizes social gatherings, decorations, bestowing gifts, and feasting. It is one of the most anticipated festivals each year. Christmas cannot be envisioned without a Christmas tree. Yet, few people realize the significance of the Christmas tree. Standing at an average height of 6-8 feet, the history of the sacred tree goes back a few centuries.Legend has it that the earliest mention of the tree comes from Scandinavia (Northern Europe) where people brought an evergreen tree into their homes during the Winter Solstice and decorated it. The evergreen tree retained its color throughout the year and people considered it as a symbol of continued life. During the 1500’s, people in Germany and other parts of Europe began decorating the evergreen tree with candles, apples, nuts, and paper flowers. This tradition was practiced until the mid 1800’s; subsequent to which Queen Victoria of England (U.K.) married Prince Albert of Germany. Upon Albert’s arrival in U.K., the German practice of decorating a Christmas tree spread across U.K. and America.
Traditionally, Christmas trees were brought in the home on 24th December and decorated on the same evening. They were removed from the home on 6th January of the following year. Keeping the tree beyond this period was considered to bring misfortune. Modern Christmas trees have majorly kept many of these customs.
The decorative ornaments used on a tree also have their own significance. Few of the ornaments include:
1. The Christmas star symbolizes the star of Bethlehem which guided the three kings to the baby Jesus. According to the New Testament, Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar brought gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh to the newborn.
2. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen fir trees during the New Year as the tree symbolized life during the winter. Legend also has it that when Christ was born in the dead of winter, all the trees around the world shook off the snow to reveal new shoots of green.
3. Bells are rung during Christmas to proclaim the arrival of the season, and they announce the birth of Christ.
4. The candle is the mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.
5. A Ribbon is tied to represent how we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill.
6. The Candy Cane represents the shape of a shepherd’s crook. It reminds us that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was born on Christmas and used the crook to bring the lost lambs back to the fold. The red stripe represents Christ’s sacrifice and the white stands for his purity.
7. The Mistletoe has no roots of its own. It lives off the tree that it is attached to, and without it, the mistletoe would die. The plant is a symbol of man’s love which is derived from God.
The joys that Christmas brings multiply with each passing year. A brief knowledge about the history and significance of Christmas would not only help inculcate a sense of meaning in our festivities; but also enlighten us about the fundamental facts that we ought to be aware of.
About The Author – Manish Khatri is a trainee journalist in India Today Media Institute
Published by – Karan Yadav
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