Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Why a Tree for Christmas?

Christmas tree

Do you ever stop and think about our Christmas traditions? Why we do what we do? I know I’m weird (at least that’s what my sisters told me growing up) but I do.

Here’s the one that’s had me by the throat since a week ago Sunday. I was chatting with my cousin’s mother when she commented on how beautiful our tree at FC3 is. (It’s always gorgeous, but she hasn’t attended church there for that long.)

So here it is . . . Does anybody know why we have the tradition of a Christmas tree? If you stop and think about it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Like I’ve said before, I get the stars and the gifts and the decorations, but why a tree?

It would make more sense to decorate a manger, wouldn’t it? Or build a stable and decorate that?

I looked on Wikipedia, and they told me the tradition started in the 1500s, but they didn’t say why. The way I read it there, it was as if someone else did it so I want to, too. I can’t imagine that’s how it happened.

I remember several stories my mom told me when I was a child. Why Nicholas was made a saint, thereby becoming Santa Claus. Why animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. (Because they were there to see the Christ Child born, so they tell the story every Christmas Eve.) But I can’t remember if she ever told me why a Christmas Tree.

I honestly don’t know. I can guess, though.

Maybe it goes along with why red and green are the primary Christmas colors.

Here’s my theory:

Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ. And we know He was born to die for our sins. So when we celebrate His birth, in a sense, we’re celebrating His death, too.

So I’m thinking the red to remind us of the blood He shed.

The Christmas tree is to remind us of the cross, the tree He was nailed to. But rather than a tree that loses its leaves, the tree is an evergreen, because He rose after three days in the grave and, in Him, we also have everlasting life.

So there it is–my explanation for why we celebrate with red, green and an evergreen tree. Right or wrong? Who knows? (If you do, please tell me!)

One thing I know absolutely–Because of Him, we can be “ever green.”

Now, I think I need more red on my tree. 🙂


In answering Steve Bock’s comment where he quotes Jeremiah 10:2-4 (below) I went to The Bible Answer Man’s website and found this origin for the Christmas Tree. (You can read the entire thing in comments.)

The fact of the matter is that the Christmas tree originated in Christian Germany about two thousand years after Jeremiah’s criticisms of wooden idols. It originated from two Christian symbols found in homes at Christmas time. The first was a “Paradise tree,” an evergreen which was hung with apples which represented the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. The second symbol was a “Christmas pyramid.” This of course was a triangular shelf holding Christmas figurines and decorated with a star. By about the 16th century these two symbols had been combined into the Christian Christmas tree.

Thanks Hank!