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The Christmas tree

Christmas tree

The most seen tree in December

The Christmas tree is a must element in Christmas holidays. It’s that main element that welcomes us in homes and cities, always present in the most important places to announce that the time of year when we meet to celebrate with family, friends, neighbors and beloved ones has come, days of sharing joy, illusion and magic.

Trees are majestic, medium or small size; artificial or real; minimalist in decoration or baroquish with thousands of colored or monochromatic lights… In terms of Christmas trees, mind you, there’s no accounting for taste.

Nowadays setting the tree by the end of the year is something in our bones, but… Have we ever wondered why we do all this for?

The origin of the Christmas tree: arrival of the Christians to the north of Europe for the first time. Saint Boniface.

Saint Boniface cutting the Sacred tree.

The inhabitants of northern Europe celebrated the birth of Frey, god of the sun and fertility, around Christmas date.

To receive Frey, they adorned a non-evergreen tree symbolizing the tree of the Universe, known as Yggdrasil, the tree of life. At the top of the tree there was Asgard, the abode of the gods; and Valhalla, the palace of Odin. Further down, at the deepest roots, was Helheim, the realm of the dead.

Well, it is said that Saint Boniface (680-754), evangelizer of Germany, once he arrived in northern Europe, cut with his axe the tree that represented the Yggdrasil, planting in its place a pine, perennial tree, symbol of eternal love of God, and decorated it with apples and candles, to remember the temptations and the original sin and the Light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Over time, apples and candles were transformed into spheres, lights and other ornaments and later, the tradition of putting gifts for children under the tree, sent by Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus and Santa Claus, or the Three Wise Men, depending on the customs of the place.

Another legend in Estonia says…

Other sources place the first Christmas tree as we know it in Tallinn (Estonia) around 1441.

The legend in question concerns a tree located in the main square of the town around which a single merchant man began to dance in the company of several women who ended up setting fire to the tree. The event, far from being catastrophic, incited the custom of lighting fir trees by Christmas.

The first Christmas tree in Spain and a Russian princess

Portrait of the Russian princess Sofía Troubetzkoy.

Paradoxically, the first person to set a Christmas tree in Spain was Russian and widow of a half-brother of Napoleon himself.

The Russian princess Sophia Troubetzkoy, remarried to the Spanish aristocrat, politician and military José Osorio in 1869. During their first Christmas together in their Alcañice palace, (today’s disappeared,) the princess asked to install a decorated fir tree. Without a doubt, all the visitors received by the couple in the palace, promoted the tradition of placing the Christmas tree in the houses.

Christmas tree decoration and symbology

Christmas tree ornaments.

Although the list of ornaments to beautify and dress the tree is endless nowadays, those are some of the ones that continue to last in time:

  • The star. The star crowns the tree as a symbol of faith, which must guide the Christian, just as the Star of Bethlehem guided the three wise man and shepherds to the manger.
  • The sphere. They replace the temptation apple imposed by Saint Boniface, to represent the gifts that God grants to men.
  • Bonds. Symbol of family union and loved ones.
  • Lights. Initially candles to represent the light of Christ.
  • Horseshoe. Object related to good luck.
  • Pineapple. Sign of immortality and family unity.
  • Bells. To announce Christmas good news
  • Angels. Guides and heralds of the birth of Jesus Christ. They can swarm the entire tree or preside over the cusp replacing the star.
  • Other elements related to Christmas traditions: snowflakes, drums, trumpets, Christmas cookies, Christmas sticks, snowmen…

    More curiosities…

    • It reminds us of the tree of Paradise, from whose fruits Adam and Eve ate and, therefore, that Jesus Christ has become the promised Messiah for reconciliation.
    • It symbolizes the offspring and the bud of the Tree of Jesse, Jesus Christ, the summit of the prophecies.
    • The triangular shape represents the Holy Trinity.
    • The prayers that are performed during Advent are differentiated by colors: blue for the prayers of reconciliation, silver for the prayers of thanks, gold for the prayers of praise, green for the prayers of abundance, strength and nature.
    • The color of the lights also have their meaning: red represents fire and blood, love and generosity. Green, hope, nature and life. White purity, joy and faith. Gold prosperity and wealth.

      How many things said from a simple tree, right? Surely next time you get to work on the tree decoration, after reading all this information, it may be different.

      If you want to share how you decorate your tree, I’d love to read it!

      Carolina

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