Dec. 22, 2021, 5:13 p.m. by Karuwaki Speaks ( 272 views)
It's that time of the year when the whole Christmas panoply–the trees, the lights, the Nativity scene, tinsel etcetera is for the central reason for celebrating Christmas: honouring the birth of Christ.
And yet, over the years, excessive materialism and commercialization have added a shallowness to the true spirit of Christmas.
From gift wrapping to Christmas trees, a department store Santa’s and beyond, what started as a religious holiday has taken on commercial significance with Entrepreneurs, marketers, and businesses large and small all playing a role.
Christian faith may or may not be at the heart of Christmas for you, but if you celebrate Christmas at all, the time surely comes in every season when you stop and ask what all this fuss is for. What is the real meaning of it all?
Well for me, Christmas time seems to hold out a promise of bringing deeper meaning to our lives.
As colorful lights begin to line the streets and stores become crowded with holiday shoppers, we start referring to the "Christmas spirit" and "holiday cheer."
With the growing secularization of the holiday season, the Christmas cheer is something we all relate to nowadays.
We, as people, are what makes Christmas what it is.
The Spirit of Christmas is in giving, hope, good cheer, love, understanding, helping, gratitude, forgiveness & goodwill towards men.
These are the feelings of Christmas that support the things that go along with this beautiful holiday like gifts, children, Xmas trees, decorations, parties, cookies & candy, mistletoe and carols.
Perhaps, the catholic nuns at the school made me realise that Christmas is more than a day in December, rather it's about all of those things that we love to remember like carolers singing familiar refrains, bright-colored stockings and shiny toy trains, streamers of tinsel and glass satin balls and the merry laughter that rang through the school and its halls.
Christmas trees have always delighted the young and the old but in Christianity, the Christmas tree is symbolic of the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The tree's branches and shrubs are viewed as an emblem of immortality and symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross.
Long before being associated with a Christian holiday, Christmas trees began as a pagan tradition.
Pagans used branches of evergreen plants and trees to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as a reminder of the spring to come.
Modern Christmas trees have been related to the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries.
Painting:- Tree of paradise
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them.
German Christmas Tree
The honour of establishing this tradition in the United Kingdom rightfully belongs to ‘good Queen Charlotte’, the German wife of George III, who set up the first known English tree at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor, in December 1800.
Painting: The First Christmas tree
Legend has it that Queen Charlotte’s compatriot, Martin Luther, the religious reformer, was walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenberg one winter’s night in 1536. Luther suddenly looked up and saw thousands of stars glinting jewel-like among the branches of the trees. This wondrous sight inspired him to set up a candle-lit fir tree in his house that Christmas to remind his children of the starry heavens from whence their Saviour came.
In 1848, Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, introduced the queen to decorating the Christmas tree which had once given so much happiness to him and his brother Ernst in their childhood in Germany.
The Christmas tree was popularised by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the nineteenth century, with images of their family gathering around the Christmas tree being published in The Illustrated London News in 1848 and became popular among middle-class families during the 19th century.
But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans and the influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law where people were fined for hanging decorations.
Finally, in the 19th century, the increased influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
The custom of decorating Christmas trees had been introduced to North America in the winter of 1781 by Hessian soldiers stationed in the Province of Québec to garrison the colony against American attack. General Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and the Baroness von Riedesel, held a Christmas party delighting their guests with a fir tree that was decorated with candles and fruits.
The connection to Germany led several US cities where there were many German immigrants to claim the title of having the first Christmas tree in the country.
The beautiful tradition of donating Christmas trees from one city to another has also often been associated with expressing gratitude for assistance given in dire emergencies.
London’s Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is donated every year by the city of Oslo, Norway as a token of appreciation for British support of the Norwegian resistance during the Second World War.
Trafalgar square Xmas tree
In Boston, the city’s Christmas tree is a gift from the province of Nova Scotia every year, thanks to the donation of a train’s worth of desperately-needed supplies and rescuers after the 1917 ammunition ship explosion that leveled the port of Halifax.
Boston Christmas tree
In the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, the main Christmas tree is an annual gift from the city of Bergen, Norway, for liberating Bergen from Nazi occupation.
Washington DC Christmas tree
Norway also annually gifts a Christmas tree to Washington, D.C. as a symbol of friendship and as an expression of gratitude from the Norwegian people for the help they received from the US during World War II.
"Nothing ever seems too bad, too hard, or too sad when you've got a Christmas tree in the living room."
Gifts of time, love and gratitude make the true essence of Christmas which as GK Chesterton said" is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home".
With all of the wonder, a whimsical and occasional wistfulness that comes along with Christmastime, sometimes it's hard to put into words just how the holiday season makes us feel, so I will end with this excerpt from H W Longfellow's poem:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
(pics from internet for illustrative purposes only)