Why do people decorate a Christmas tree?

The imagery of Christmas is all about.
Adorned with colourful baubles, a living tree at the hearth.
An array of twinkling lights, without.
The promise of warm food.
Strangers wishing each other, ‘Merry Christmas!’
And the melodies of carols in the wind.
It is a time of prayer, supplication, charity and growth. And Joy.
And in all of this, it is a time to celebrate the unity of an entire nation: yours and mine.

St Augustine

Christmas, as it is visually recognised in the Anglo Saxon world, made its landfall in England in AD 596.

It was in that year that St Augustine, his sparse robe whipped by northerly gusts, stepped foot upon a cold English shore.  With him were Christian monks.  It was they who would bring Christianity to the Anglo Saxons. [1]

With them, they brought the celebration of Christmas.

Christmas is a time of prayer, supplication, thanksgiving and joy.

For grownups, the joy is in the homecoming of loved ones.

For the children, it a time of sheer magic: the magic of receiving presents.

A bearded man in a sleigh, pulled by reindeer

A legend grew.  There was a man with a flowing long beard.  He would bring presents for ‘good’ children.  Thus were hopeful children told,

‘Father Christmas will give you a present!’

And so, children left an empty stocking at the hearth – as large as possible – hoping it would be filled on Christmas Eve.

As they snuggled under warm blankets, protected against the crippling cold of winter, they hoped these stocking would be filled on Christmas Eve.

Amidst howling frosty winds,  Father Christmas, it was said, delivered these presents to children – silently creeping about chimneys in the dead of the night.

Boxing Day?

In England, the day after Christmas is called ‘Boxing Day’.  It has nothing to do with pugilism.

Carrying clay boxes, boys went about their neighbourhood. The boxes had little slits made the top, through which friendly neighbours dropped coins.

They collected as much as they could. When the boxes were full, the boys broke them open.

Traditional Dinner

The traditional Christmas dinner is roast turkey, with vegetables and sauce.

Christmas pudding was for dessert.

Then came the mince pies, and pastry of chopped dried fruit.

Whence cometh the ubiquitous Tree?

It is hard to imagine Christmas without a green tree, heavy with decoration.  It has become central to the Christmas spirit; but it was not always so.

The tradition became the more popular in the mid-nineteenth century because of Prince Albert.

He came from Germany.

He married Queen Victoria, the English monarch.

Albert brought with him, and into a delighted Royal enclave, the German tradition of a lighted Christmas tree.

In time, this simple, but wonderful royal gesture of love, it is said, spread all across England.

The Real thing about Christmas

In all this, the real thing about Christmas is a palpable, but invisible thing:

It is the spirit of Christmas.

Winter is about a cessation of growth, of freezing.

Twinkling lights encircling the Christmas tree drive away the dark, [longer] cold days of winter.  They promise light, warmth, hearth, and food.

A green tree signifies life, and decorating it with colourful baubles, to convey a sense that one awaits warmer days, in expectation of growth.

The spectre of Santa Clause is indicative of the generosity of a Divine Being, who watches over all, even in darkness, and in deathly cold. [2]

Is Christmas only for Christians?

Above all, there is, at Christmas, a sense of charity, of assisting the poor and needy, of lending a hand, of saying a kind word.

These values belong not only to those who celebrate Christmas.  It belongs to all humanity.

True it is that we do not have frosty winds and freezing weather here.

The weather makes no difference to us.

But the spirit of the celebration does!

So, do please have a delightfully happy reunion with Divinity, with family and friends, give to the oppressed.

We pray that you receive goodly gifts from God, whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter what your personal circumstance is.

For there is hope.

As long as there is hope, there is life.

And for as long as there is life, there is growth.

Where there is growth, there is unity.

And unity is the lifeblood of the universe.

From all of us at GK Ganesan and the Paradox, here’s to wishing you a “Happy Christmas!”

 

 

 

[1].  https://www.christmas-day.org/christmas-in-uk.html

[2].  https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/what-is-christmas-spirit/

 

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