Origin of the Christmas Tree


#1

I was always taught that the Christmas tree originated as a Pagan symbol, but just recently heard a theory that it actually originated from the use of a Paradise tree in mystery plays in medieval Germany.

Does anyone have good reliable references on the matter?


#2

The pine (or green conifer-ish) tree was a symbol for Christ used by the early Irish monks who Christianized central; Europe. For example St. Boniface (patron saint of bartenders!) cut down the oak (pagan symbol) and planted the pine tree instead.

It became a Christmas Tree (as we know it) when Queen Victoria's (German) husband Prince Albert introduced it to the British Royal household, and it was quickly imitated throughout the Empire and the English speaking world.

A woodcut of the British Royal family with their Christmas tree at Windsor Castle, initially published in The Illustrated London News December 1848, was copied in the United States at Christmas 1850, in Godey's Lady's Book. Godey's copied it exactly, except for the removal of the Queen's tiara and Prince Albert's moustache, to remake the engraving into an American scene.[22] The republished Godey's image became the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America. Art historian Karal Ann Marling called Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, shorn of their royal trappings, "the first influential American Christmas tree".[23] Folk-culture historian Alfred Lewis Shoemaker states, "In all of America there was no more important medium in spreading the Christmas tree in the decade 1850–60 than Godey's Lady's Book". The image was reprinted in 1860, and by the 1870s, putting up a Christmas tree had become common in America.[22] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree


#3

The pine or fir tree was used in what is not Germany as a Christian symbol at Christmas since the area was converted to Christianity in the Dark Ages. By the Middle Ages it was in common use there especially in Bavaria and Saxony.
Apart from Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria introducing the Christmas tree to the UK, the first Christmas trees were introduced into the US in the late 1840's and early 1850's.
There was a massive immigration of Germans to the US beginning in the middle 1840's. These immigrants brought their customs with them. To give you an idea as to the extent of this immigration, by the mid 1850's 5 US cities: Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati Buffalo and Pittsburg were wall to wall German. Cincinnati alone had 5 daily German newspapers, St Lous had 4.
The Christmas celebrations in these cities spread to the rest of the US, so that by 1878/9 Department Stores in New York City were advertising Christmas sales in the newspapers.
I think that the only people who dwell on any pagan origin of things like Christmas trees and Easter eggs are obscure atheistic scholars who are hell bent on the secularizing of our society.


#4

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:3, topic:310148"]
The pine or fir tree was used in what is not Germany as a Christian symbol at Christmas since the area was converted to Christianity in the Dark Ages. By the Middle Ages it was in common use there especially in Bavaria and Saxony.
Apart from Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria introducing the Christmas tree to the UK, the first Christmas trees were introduced into the US in the late 1840's and early 1850's.
There was a massive immigration of Germans to the US beginning in the middle 1840's. These immigrants brought their customs with them. To give you an idea as to the extent of this immigration, by the mid 1850's 5 US cities: Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati Buffalo and Pittsburg were wall to wall German. Cincinnati alone had 5 daily German newspapers, St Lous had 4.
The Christmas celebrations in these cities spread to the rest of the US, so that by 1878/9 Department Stores in New York City were advertising Christmas sales in the newspapers.
I think that the only people who dwell on any pagan origin of things like Christmas trees and Easter eggs are obscure atheistic scholars who are hell bent on the secularizing of our society.

[/quote]

Really? Maybe they are just scholars?:confused:

Where does the word Easter come from BTW, since you brought it up?


#5

All of the sources that I have looked at say that the word Easter is derived from the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre.


#6

Yep.


#7

Well, where I live, and the books I read, have led me to believe that they are not obscure, and are becoming the norm. When I was cutting people’s Christmas trees this year, people were quite openly discussing it with their children. That’s why I asked if anyone had some good Catholic references for the history of these customs, because most of the ‘mythologists’ and such that I’ve read, seem to have a very strong anti-Catholic/anti Christian bias…


#8

Byzantine Churches call the feast of the Russurection of Christ, Πάσχα (Pascha) from the Greek translation of the Aramaic: פַּסחא‎ (Pascha). In Hebrew it is פֶּסַח (Pesach). In Latin it is Pascha. All of which are forms of what we call in English, Passover. Calling the feast, Easter, is a late innovation.

Bede notes that the native Old English month Ēostur-monath (Old English “Ēostre-month”) was equivalent to the month of April, yet that feasts held in the goddess’s honor during Ēostur-monath had gone out of use by the time of his writing and had been replaced with the Christian custom of the “Paschal season”. The feast was also historically referred to in English as “Pash” or “Pace”.
Source: pasch, n. (2). Oxford English Dictionary (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter#Etymology)


#9

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.