The Legend of the Christmas Tree
Decorating a tree with lights and ornaments has become a common tradition, and we almost forgot that its origin has nothing to do with the Christian world and came instead from a pagan celebration. In fact, many centuries ago, the Germanic people already used a pine tree every year to celebrate the winter solstice on December 21. According to Germanic mythology, the evergreen pine tree was the symbol of vital energy and reminded men that, even during winter, nature was not dead and was about to start a new life cycle.
Later, when Christianity widespread in Europe, this celebration of December 21 was assimilated by Christians, and the pine tree entered our homes and became our Christmas tree. This cherished tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth around a decorated tree is one of the most popular and beloved symbols of our Christmas season.
As with many other Christmas symbols, it has legends associated to it, and the one I would love to share with you is a lovely tale ever since told to German children about the origin of their beautiful Christmas tree. Let it now be told also to other children from around the world.
The Legend of the Christmas Tree
There once was a very poor woodcutter who lived with his family deep in the forest. On Christmas Eve they sat down for dinner when they heard a knock at the door. There stood a child in torn and ragged clothes, pale and hungry.
The woodcutter invited the child in for food even though they did not have much to share, and gave him a bed to rest. The woodcutter and his family prayed to God, thanking him for a warm and safe place to live.
In the early morning, they awoke to the most beautiful singing they had ever heard. They went to the window and saw the orphaned child standing with a choir of angels singing a lovely Christmas carol. The child was no longer wearing the tattered clothing but dressed in a magnificent robe surrounded by a glowing light.
When the child saw the woodcutter and his family he said:
“I am the Christ Child, I have received your kindness and now this is my gift to you.”
He then broke a branch from a small fir tree and planted it, while telling them:
“From this day on, this tree shall bear fruit at Christmas and you shall have plenty even in the cold winter.”
As they stood listening, the branch grew into a beautify tree covered with golden apples and silver nuts, and that poor family was in need never again.
Although we all know that this is not a real story, we may gather from it that when helping a child in distress, our deeds will count as if they were done to Jesus himself. As the Bible so beautifully teaches us: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
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