Ever Wonder Why Christmas Trees Have Ornaments?
Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why do we hang ornaments on a tree?” Come along as we travel back in time to answer this question.
Join Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, in the 16th century walking home on a snowy winter evening pondering a sermon. The moon was shining bright in the sky and snow was freshly fallen. The snow was resting on the tree limbs, sparkling, shining and glittering like the stars in the sky.
Martin was so struck by the beauty of God’s nature that he wanted to capture this brilliance and bring it home to share with his family so, he came up with the idea of placing lighted candles on his Christmas tree. The Luther Family tree was displayed in the main room with lighted candles that shined the flickering candle light, just like the snowy scene. The candle light illuminated the tree’s decorations.
Ornaments such as paper flowers, cookies, fruit and nuts were used to decorate Christmas trees as a sign that spring and life would return in the coming months. Paper streamers, popcorn and cranberries were strung to add color and life the Christmas tree.
To really understand why we decorate Christmas trees, we must travel back farther in time to the year 723. Saint Boniface was working his way through Germany on an evangelical mission. Boniface came across a pagan gathering. The people were dancing around a decorated oak tree, preparing to sacrifice a baby in the name of Thor.
Boniface was appalled at the sight and in one swing of an axe, chopped down the oak tree in the name of Jesus Christ. When the oak tree fell, it revealed a small fir tree. Boniface explained to the group that the fir tree is a symbol of the one true God; its leaves are ever green and it will not die, with even its needles pointing to heaven. Tradition states that from that moment, fir trees were brought into Christian homes, decorated in the name of Jesus. Hanging religious ornaments on a tree was a way to honor the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus Christ’s birth.
So, why do we decorate Christmas trees? The answer has a historical birth, but it has also become an honored family tradition. It is a time to gather as a family, reflect on the year and celebrate the upcoming Christmas season with those we hold dearest and nearest to our hearts.
Each Christmas ornament tells a story and allows the family to celebrate each milestone, reflect on vacations, pastimes, hobbies, and interests. Each family’s Christmas tree tells a unique and beautiful story that is special to them. Traditional ornament collections are passed down from generation to generation. The next time you walk into a friend’s house, ask about the story of their ornaments and you may uncover a lovely story.