“This is what the LORD says…the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter” (Jeremiah 10:2-4)*
Are you aware that there are people that believe having a Christmas Tree is an abomination to God? Some people, out of a since heart, seeking to honor God and to follow His truth, hate Christmas Trees. They base their argument on Bible verses, like the one quoted above, and on history. They believe a Christmas Tree is a sign of paganism.
Christmas Tree = Ancient Symbol of Paganism?
According to history, ancient pagans, as the Druids, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese celebrated the Winter Solstice on December 21st (the day of the year that the sun begins its ascent, the beginning of the best time for planting in order to reap a bountiful harvest). The evergreen tree symbolized eternal life and hope during winter time. Apples and other fruits were used to decorate the tree and they symbolized the expected great harvest. The Romans also decorated trees to worship their god, Bacchus or the sun god.
A tree has no magical powers. I am glad the tree “symbolized” the hope of a good harvest, but symbols have no “magical power” nor do they perform miracles. Symbols, however, sometimes represent the hope for a blessing, a plentiful harvest.
Christmas Tree = Modern Symbol of Christmas?
According to historical writings, modern traditions of the Christmas Tree date back to Western Germany in the 16th century; they were called Paradise Trees. Trees were decorated to celebrate the Annual Feast of Adam and Eve on December 24th. Eventually, the German immigrants brought it to the USA. President Franklin Pierce was the first president to place one in the White House in the 19th century.
Today the Christmas Tree has become a tradition in countries from all five continents. Since a symbol can have practically any meaning, we are free to give the Christmas Tree a symbolic meaning that would honor Christmas. For example: The evergreen tree may represent the everlasting life God provides through Jesus, the pleasant aroma may represent the presence of God through His Son Jesus, the shape and tip of the tree may point us to God, the decorations may symbolize how God changes and adorns our life, the lights symbolic of Jesus as the Light of the world. You can make some of your own symbols for the Christmas Tree.
Going back to the Bible verse I quoted before; Jeremiah, as God’s spokesman, was not condemning trees, but what they were made into – idols. Notice what else Jeremiah said: “They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk…They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols” (10:4, 5, and 8)* The idol was not the tree but the image made from the wood.
Whether or not you decide to have a Christmas Tree, remember that the Bible does not condemn trees: It condemns the worship of anything or anyone other than the Creator – God Himself. Once again during Christmas we have a decorated tree at home. We chose to enjoy the tree and what it means to us!
*New International Version