Why Christmas tree is an essential part of festivities

The Chronicle

Yvonne Ncube, Showbiz Reporter
Have you ever wondered why the Christmas tree is an essential part of Christmas festivities?
Is it the glittery flash of the tinsel garland or refreshing piney smell permeating through the room? Or, is it the significance?

As the festival of Diwali is incomplete without flickering oil lamps similarly, the festival of Christmas is incomplete with a Christmas tree, an evergreen pine, spruce, or fir decorated with lights and glittery ornaments with a bright star shining at the top.

If you are curious to know the symbolism of the Christmas tree, then you are advised to prepare a hot cup of tea or brewing coffee, get cozy in a chair and settle down.

This is because the Christmas tree holds different meanings for different people and across cultures. In Christianity, the Christmas tree is symbolic of birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The tree’s branches and shrubs are viewed as an emblem of the remarkable history of Jesus during his time on earth and are said to symbolise the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross.

Also, every decoration used to adorn the Christmas tree is believed to have a special significance although ornaments have been the most popular choice for decorating.

The shining star is used as a Christmas tree topper. It is a symbolism of the star that guided the wise men to Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Some people prefer to use an angel as tree toppers because it is said it was the angel who announced Christ’s birth.

The bells hanging on the side of the tree branches represent the joy and happiness of this day. The candy cane-shaped like shepherd’s crook which come in different colours, represent the shepherds while the wreath is an epitome of true love.

In Zimbabwe, because ever green trees are not grown, artificial replicas have prevailed since the beginning of this tradition. While the trees hold so much significance, others have chosen to view them as just a contemporary December celebration figure.

Many Christmas traditions practised around the world today are traced to have their origins in Germany. It is believed that 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 wood was scarce.

It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-Century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Hence, the meaning of the Christmas tree is deeply rooted in ancient history, tradition, and culture. Much more than for beauty and refreshing piney scent, the Christmas tree is adored for its holy importance.

However, traditions are evolving and some people have shifted to decorate their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, which include the use of apples, nuts, and cookies.

Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became a tradition once upon a time.

For Greeks the coniferous pine was sacred to Attis, the Greek God. In the Greek tradition, pine was furnished with silver adornments, and bells and offerings were placed under the tree as sacrifices to the deities.

Moving on, for Romans, evergreen trees are held as solar symbolism in Roman culture. The trees were a testimony of light to the Romans. They celebrated the festival of Saturnalia to honour Saturn, the God of agriculture. To mark the occasion, Roman people decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.

While for the Japanese and the Chinese, pine and cypress trees are sacred in these two cultures as well as associated with the meaning of immortality, longevity. The wood from these trees is used to build holy structures altars, temples, Shinto Kami structures.

Additionally, in these traditions, pine and cypress are assumed to possess the force of life which was felt at these holy structures built.

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 symbolised for them, the triumph of life over death.

With these diverse traditions all holding a significant meaning of the Christmas tree according to their beliefs, it is important to celebrate your own.

Christmas trees in Zimbabwe have been slowly, but surely losing popularity as people no longer value them. They are widely seen in shops and supermarkets, but never in people’s homes.

With the advantage of making your own homemade decorations, people can now cut costs of purchasing all those ornaments hence it now comes easy and affordable to decorate your trees.

Tackling the presents that come to decorate the tree, family and friends can show each other appreciation through these gifts. Get yours today. – @SeehYvonne

Article Source: The Chronicle

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