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Some Traditions and The Nature Religions

[ Winter ]

Origins of Mid-Winter Celebrations
Some Traditions and The Nature Religions
Saturnalia and The Feast of Fools
Bells, Candles, and The Festival of Lights
My Christmas Links Page

The Christmas Tree

The enduring tree symbol, which is even older than Christianity and not exclusive to any one religion, remains a firmly established part of our holiday customs. A beautiful live Christmas tree engages our senses of sight, touch, and smell, and evokes feelings of joy in both young and old.

Christmas Trees are always evergreen trees, because the evergreen tree is the "tree of life". It stays green all winter, and gives us the feeling of hope. In ancient cultures, before Christ was born, the people used to bring them into their homes. Some evergreens can even produce flowers and fruit during the Winter. This seemed magical to these people. People in Estonia and Latvia used to dress Christmas trees with artificial roses, then set them on fire. They hoped to encourage an early Spring.

"Evergreens are symbolic of enduring and renewed life, which is why we decorate our homes with them at Christmas time. The fetching in of green branches is a magical rite to ensure the return of vegetation at winter's end. Our modern day Christmas tree is the centerpiece of this belief."

This info can be found on the Urban Legends of Christmas Web Site.

[ Evergreen Forest ]

[ Live Christmas Tree ]

[ Christmas Tree ]

'Decking the Halls'

"In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.

The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder."

This info can be found on the History Channel's Web Site.

[Evergreen Wreath]

[ Wreath of Palms ]

Gift Giving

"The custom of gift-giving on Christmas goes back to Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Kalends. The very first gifts were simple items such as twigs from a sacred grove as good luck emblems. Soon that escalated to food, small items of jewelry, candles, and statues of gods."

This info can be found on the Szaflik Family Christmas Web Site.

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[Animated Christmas Tree w/Gifts underneath]
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