Saturday, December 17, 2016


In her memories of Christmas, my mother noted that the tree was brought in on Christmas Eve and taken out on New Year’s Day. Ina also followed this tradition. However, Mother noted that when she was in high school, she took an interest in helping with the decorations and they began to put the tree in several days before Christmas. In my earliest memories, the tree came in about a week before Christmas, but by the early '60s, we were putting it up the first weekend in December. It seemed unusual at that time, but nowadays many people decorate early. 

Here's a Christmas card, probably from the '40s or '50s, that provides a legend of the Christmas tree. KW

Today the Christmas tree is a center of our festivities. Topped with a star, and glittering with lights and ornaments, it is a part of the beauty and meaning of the Christmas season.

How did the Christmas tree come to play such an important part in the observance of Christmas?

There is a legend that comes down to us from the early days of Christianity in England. One of those helping to spread Christianity among the Druids was a monk named Wilfred (later Saint Wilfred). One day, surrounded by a group of his converts, he struck down a huge Oak tree, which, in the Druid religion, was an object of worship.

As the Oak tree fell to the earth, it split into four pieces, and from its center there grew a young Fir tree, pointing a green spire toward the sky. The crowd gazed in amazement.

Wilfred let his axe drop, and turned to speak. "This little tree shall be your Holy Tree tonight.It is the wood of peace, for your houses are built of the Fir. It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are evergreen. See how it points toward the heavens.

Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wilderness, but in your homes. There it will be surrounded with loving gifts and rites of kindness."

And to this day, that is why the Fir Tree is one of our loveliest symbols of Christmas. 

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