CHARLOTTE, NC, November 27, 2017 – The Christmas tree, bright with lights and colorful ornaments is a sign of our Judeo Christian celebration. Unfortunately, over the years Christmas has become so commercialized that many people find it to be one of the most stressful seasons of the year.
Commercial intrusions creep into our lives in such abundance that the spirit of the season gets lost in the process.
Christmas tree history
In an effort to return to a bit of traditional Christmas spirit in a simpler day where the festive gathering of friends and family was something to look forward to and savor rather than dread, here are some interesting historical perspectives on how many of our traditions began.
An Upside Down Christmas Tree
The idea of an upside-down Christmas tree may seem a bit absurd at first, but in recent years the custom has been increasingly catching on in many places in Western societies.
While it may seem to be a modern form of rebellion against the more traditional upright tree, the story actually has a long history dating back to the 7th century.
The earliest decorated trees are more recent with the first records dating to the 1500s in Riga, Latvia. Decorations were typically food and flowers representing the abundance of the harvest. Symbolically the idea of the tree was to pay homage to the Paradise Tree in the Garden of Eden.
Hanging a Christmas tree upside-down is most common primarily among Slavic cultures such as Poles, Slovaks and Ukrainians but in recent years the idea seems to be slowly spreading to other parts of the world.
St. Boniface and God’s Trinity Tree
According to legend St. Boniface of England became infuriated when he witnessed pagan worshippers revering an oak tree in the 7th century. Boniface had the tree cut down, but a few years later, a fir tree sprouted in the same spot.
Using the triangular shape of the fir tree as a method to describe the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Boniface was able to convert numerous pagans to Christianity.
Soon Christian converts found inspiration in the fir tree and began calling it “God’s Trinity Tree.”
In 12th century Central and Eastern Europe, trees were hung upside-down from the ceiling. The reverse position was to symbolize the shape of Christ on the cross while the triangular form was seen as God and Son becoming Man.
Christmas Tree Traditions
In Poland, trees are replete with fruit, nuts, sweets in shiny paper, straw, ribbon, colorful paper and golden pine cones.
On Christmas Eve some trees hang above the dinner table. Krakow traditionally decorate the boughs of its trees with apples, nuts, pears and gingerbread. Those treats not to be eaten until the day after Christmas.
Advocates of the upside-down tradition argue that their method offers benefits from the more familiar right-side up position.
For one thing, ornaments are not as accessible to small children and their curious little hands. In addition, there is no chance of the kids knocking down the tree by accident.
The same theory holds true for rambunctious pets which can also be a potential hazard leading up to Christmas morning.
Today’s Christmas tree traditions
A third reason is the ability to pile more presents underneath the tree. It is also easier to reach the one in the back. Though more Westerners are adapting the ancient tradition, Eastern Europe is leaning in the other direction. Europeans are setting the tree upright and adding contemporary LED lights.
No one can dispute that in our modern 21st century world, everything seems topsy-turvy and inside-out. If you want to escape into a yuletide past, an upside-down Christmas tree might be one way to begin.
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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