by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

The Cross Is God's Christmas Tree
Dr. J. Vernon McGee
1 Peter 2:24

What is the origin of the modern Christmas tree? This question arises regularly with each return of the holiday season and just as regularly disappears into the silence of uncertainty at the close of the Christmas festivities. While there is no answer of a definite nature, one thing is sure: It has no biblical basis. How the decorated tree found its way into the Christmas celebration is a question which has no categorical conclusion whatsoever.

There are those who connect it with the Saturnalia of the ancient Romans and their use of evergreens over the door during the days of that pagan festival, a festival bitterly denounced by the early church. Tertullian wrote extensively against it.

Some find the origin of the Christmas tree among the Druids who were tree worshipers. And, if your ancestors came from northern Europe, as did mine, I suppose there were Druids among them. Still others find the origin of this custom in the superstition of a corrupt church, but the facts available do not seem to warrant such a conclusion. There is no scriptural basis, and thus far there seems to be no historical basis upon which the use of this merriest of Christmas ornaments rests.

William Muir Auld refers to the fact that Virgil casually alluded to a Roman custom of placing images on evergreens at certain times of the year. George Jacob, an Arabian geographer of the tenth century, related a legend about the night Christ was born in which the forest, despite ice and snow, burst into bloom. However, the first mention of the Christmas tree was made by an unknown citizen in Strassburg in 1604: ''At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours in Strassburg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper, etc.'' (A. Tille, Yule and Christmas). The whole idea is doubtless of German origin and probably began in Protestantism.

Some attribute its birth to Martin Luther, but in no way can this be su ...

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