Origin of the Christmas Tree Part 5

Christmas: Is it Christian or Pagan? Part 5
Origin of the Christmas Tree


Jeremiah 10:2-4 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

Jon Watkins Online Ministries November 2015
Cynthia Pawl edited, corrected and added to this!

Yule
or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christianized reformulation resulting in the now better known Christmastide. The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) orJiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht. SourceThe original name for the Christmas tree was “The Yule tree” It symbolized the tree of life. Out of the mouth of the pagans we read:

Yule trees go way back in Pagan tradition, and generally were outdoor live trees that were decorated with hanging candles. The Yule tree lights and ornaments originally symbolized the sun, moon and stars as they looked on the Tree of Life. The Yule tree decorations also represented the souls of the departed who we remember at the end of the year. And then there is the modern day gift giving which originated from hanging sacred presents on the Yule tree as offerings to deities such as Attis and Dionysus. And to think all of this sprung from the pine groves equated with the Great Mother Goddess. Source


Again, let’s glean from another Wiccan source as to where this started:

The Christmas – Yule Tree. The Yule tree has been in traditions thousands of years before it became known as the Christmas tree in the 1840’s. In fact, the Christmas tree was banded in Every Christian denomination and in the Bible (Jeremiah 10:1-5) because of its Pagan roots until Queen Victoria changed it to allow herself to have one after returning from a trip in Germany. The evergreen tree represented the continuation of life to the Pagan culture of Europe and was decorated with what they wanted the new year to bring. Coins, Corn or other crops and flowers, lights for the return of the sun and successful harvests and gifts to their gods. In later years, the Germanic Pagans created ornaments to adorn the tree. They symbolized the sun and the warmth to come.

Other traditions came into the mix as the years went on. The Holiday Bells, or jingle bells were-are used to drive evil spirits away. Holiday Candles come from the Saturnalia celebration and were-are used as gifts to drive evil away and to urge the sun to return. Evergreens of all kinds (Tree, Wreaths, Garland, etc) have power over death since they don’t die in the winter and are used to defeat evil. Holly is the sign-symbol of re-birth. Wreaths are the symbol of Birth-Death-Rebirth in the continuation of the Wheel of Life. The earliest ones were made from tree limbs, and the Greeks covered them with greenery to make the image we have today. Snowflakes were-are used as a Pagan symbols of love. They were from the story of Persephone’s decent into the underworld. Demeter cried tears for Persephone and the tears formed the first snowflakes. The story has a similar ring to the Sumerian story of the Goddess Inanna decent into the Underworld (see more here). I am reading the Akkadian version of the story currently, with the Goddess Ishtar as the heroine. Source


Did you grasp what this Wiccan said? She even lists the same scripture I have at the very beginning of this series! How is it a person who does not worship and believe in the real God can see this and God’s people can’t? It’s because of tradition and the sin and iniquity is handed down from generation to generation without question. That and the god of this world has blinded the eyes of God’s people.

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”

Let’s explore this a bit further and add in the decorations as well as wreaths, mistletoe and the Yule log.

No article about Christmas is complete without some explanation of the “Christmas tree.” We have touched on it without directly focusing on it. The modern Christmas tree originated in Germany. But the Germans got it from the Romans, who got it from the Babylonians and the Egyptians.

The following demonstrates what the Babylonians believe about the origin of the Christmas tree: “An old Babylonish fable told of an evergreen tree which sprang out of a dead tree stump. The old stump symbolized the dead Nimrod, the new evergreen tree symbolized that Nimrod had come to life again in Tammuz! Among the Druids the oak was sacred, among the Egyptians it was the palm, and in Rome it was the fir, which was decorated with red berries during the Saturnalia!” (Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 242).

Frederick J. Haskin’s Answers to Questions states, “The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to the Christmas Era.” Did you know this—that the Christmas tree long preceded Christianity?

Most aspects of Christmas are not referred to in the Bible. Of course, the reason is that they are not from God—they are not part of the way He wants people to worship Him. The Christmas tree, however, is directly mentioned in the Bible! Turn to Jeremiah 10:2-5, “Thus says the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen…For the customs of the people are vain: for one cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”

This plain description of the modern Christmas tree is clear. God directly refers to it as “the way of the heathen.” Just as directly, He commands His people to “learn not the way of the heathen,” calling these customs “vain.” Verse 23 adds a remarkable and powerful statement: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his [own] steps.” God must teach people how to live. Man simply cannot figure out God’s ways for himself.

There is no room in Jeremiah 10 to believe, as some have tried to suggest, that because these trees are powerless of themselves, it is not really forbidden to have a Christmas tree. God condemns the putting up of pagan (Christmas) trees with this plain Bible command!


The Source of Holly Wreaths, Yule Logs and Mistletoe

The Encyclopedia Americana states, “The holly, the mistletoe, the Yule log…are relics of pre-Christian time.” In other words, paganism! The Yule log was commonly used in a rite of Teutonic nature worship.

Frederick Haskin further states, “The use of Christmas wreaths is believed by authorities to be traceable to the pagan customs of decorating buildings and places of worship at the feast which took place at the same time as Christmas.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica, under “Celastrales,” exposes the origin of the holly wreath: “European pagans brought holly sprays into their homes, offering them to the fairy people of the forests as refuge from the harsh winter weather. During the Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival, branches of holly were exchanged as tokens of friendship. The earliest Roman Christians apparently used holly as a decoration at the Christmas season.”

There are dozens of different types of holly. Virtually all of them come in male and female varieties—such as “Blue Prince and Blue Princess” or “Blue Boy and Blue Girl” or “China Boy and China Girl.” Female holly plants cannot have berries unless a nearby male plant pollinates them. It is easy to see why the holly wreath found its way into pagan rituals as a token of friendship and fertility!

Christmas is incomplete to many unless it involves “kissing under the mistletoe.” This pagan custom was natural on a night that involved much revelry done in the spirit of drunken orgies. Just like today, this “kissing” usually occurred at the beginning of any modern Saturnalia/Christmas celebration. I will never forget having to always kiss my friends’ mothers upon entering each of their houses every Christmas. It was the first thing that we did. I hated it—but it was something I “had to do”! Mistletoe was considered to have special powers of healing for those who “reveled” under it.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, under “Santalales,” states, “The European mistletoe is thought to have had special ritual significance in Druidical ceremonies and lives in folklore today, its special status as the Christmas mistletoe having come from Anglo-Saxon times.” Mistletoe is a parasite that lives on oak trees. (Recall that the Druids worshipped in oak tree groves.) The ancient Celtics (associated with the Druids) used to give mistletoe as an herbal remedy to barren animals to make them fertile. It is still referred to as “all healer” in Celtic.

Like mistletoe, holly berries were also thought to be sacred to the sun god. The original “sun log” came to be called the yule log. “Yule” simply means “wheel,” which has long been a pagan representation of the sun. No wonder people today commonly speak of the “sacred yule-tide season.” Source


The Yule Log: Another Pagan Tradition

While most people have heard of the Yule Log, few people realize that its tradition can be traced back to the days of the pagan Norsemen, or Vikings.

To celebrate their belief in the powers of the gods, the Norsemen held festivals. The father of the Gods was Odin or Thor, commonly called the Yule Father (Yule referred to the sun). The original Yule Log Ceremony was a festival celebrating the sun during the winter solstice, which occurs close to the time we celebrate Christmas today.

Originally, the Yule Log was burned in honor of the gods and to bring good luck in the coming year. The log was usually from one of the largest trees that could be found. It was so massive that to haul it a team of horses or oxen were needed. After the Norman invasion of England in 1066, the Yule Log tradition was passed on to the British and evolved to the tradition that it is today.

After being cut down, the Yule Log was dragged through the streets. The log always came from its owners’ land or a neighbor’s property, and was never purchased. It was always burned on Christmas Eve, accompanied by music, fun, and games. It was customary that each year a piece of the Yule Log was saved and used to start the fire for the next year’s log.

To help kindle the fire, holly was placed under the log. Customarily, guests would toss a sprig of holly into the fire to burn up the troubles of the past year and to keep their houses safe from burning down in the New Year.

To help kindle the fire, holly was placed under the log. Customarily, guests would toss a sprig of holly into the fire to burn up the troubles of the past year and to keep their houses safe from burning down in the New Year.

Other Anglo-Saxon traditions include celebrating good health in the New Year by drinking from the wine-and-spice-filled Wassail bowl; baking Yule dough into figures shaped like people, with raisins for eyes and noses, to symbolize Christ (these Yule Dough people are the predecessors of today’s gingerbread men); burning a Yule Candle, which was big enough to burn for the 12 days of Christmas; and hanging a sprig of mistletoe for fertility and romance.

So in reality when you put up a tree and decorate it, when you hang a Wreath, if you burn a Yule Log you paying homage to false pagan gods and beliefs!

Continued in Part 6Who is Santa Claus?