The Symbolism of The Christmas Tree
What is Christmas all about? Well, it’s about what you want it to be about. It can be all about stress and anxiety but remember if it is, it is because you make it so. You may have allowed the spirit of materialism to cloud your vision. To me, Christmas is all about giving and children. I can still remember the excitement, mystery and wonder of those early Christmases. I remember knelling at the upstairs window with my sister looking for Santa Clause and his reindeer. I remember the expectation of the coming morning and the excitement of opening the gifts. I still love to see the grand kids faces as they open their gifts. I especially enjoy watching the little ones playing with the Christmas paper. They seem to be more excited about the paper than all the commotion around.
Of course, Christmas is also about the family. It is one of those sacred days we in America have set aside for family and friends; a day in which we celebrate our families and our friendships. Christmas is the last wall which separates us from being a total secular culture where nothing is sacred and all is profane. I often wonder what our culture will look like when the desacralization is completed and there is nothing left of the sacred or the mystery and wonder that went with it. When was the last time that you experienced some awe and wonder?
You know there is something else I like about Christmas. I love the music. It is so positive and up- lifting. It speaks of hope, love and joy. One of the main radio channels in our area plays nothing but Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I love the guy who thought that one up. I’m sure the teens hate him and it must grind on the skeptics among us. Even they must concede that it’s a welcome change from the noise and the depressing lyrics of modern music.
I guess I should get back to the title of this article “The symbolism of the Christmas tree.” The pine tree is not a unique symbol to Christianity. It was used by numerous religious groups as a symbol of eternal life. Many of these groups might have borrowed the imagery of the tree of life found in the Paradise of God in the book of Genesis. Unlike other trees, the pine tree does not depend on the seasons of the year for it to produce life. It appears to be alive when everything around it seems dead. It is shaped like a cone and points to the heavens and reminds us that life comes from above and is eternal.
Let’s take a look at the ornaments from top to bottom. On the top of the tree we usually find an angel or a star. Both are fitting symbols. The angel represents the messengers that announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds in the field “they brought a message of good news and great joy.” If you use a star, it symbolizes the star of David which symbolizes the Messiah to be born into David’s family. It is not surprising; therefore, that Jesus is referred to as the bright and Morningstar. The star, therefore, is the symbol of Jesus. As the Morningstar rules over the night, so does Jesus’s rule over his people.
Then we have the lights, (they used to be real candles) which stands for all of God’s people that are called by the Messiah to be the light of the world. They are to take the message of giving and hope given by the angles to the entire world and be about the business of punching holes in the darkness of this world. How is your light shining this Christmas?
It has been our custom to hang on the tree little symbols of our family members and family events that have taken place during the years. It is a great way sharing and remembering our family history. But it also symbolizes how our story and the story of all mankind hangs on the same tree of life. Did you know that the tree of life in the opening story in the Book of Genius is a symbol that points toward Jesus? “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:1-3).
Final, when we unwrap the meaning of the gifts under the tree we will see that they point to the great gift giver. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1;17) This Christmas let’s learn the power of a thankful spirit. Count the real gifts that God has given to you, your mate, your children and your friends. Did you know that God blesses those that have a thankful spirit?
Have a merry Christmas and a great new year.