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CHRISTMAS TREES…come in all shapes and sizes. In our own family over the years our traditional tree has varied based on the status of our family and the ceiling height of the house. So, we have had large, huge and small. Some have been real trees, recently cut, and others were artificial. Joanne has always decorated the trees to capture the Christmas theme as well as family memories. When our two daughters were rather young, we bought a live evergreen with the roots in a ball. After Christmas, we planted it in our front yard. We moved the next year to Dallas. Over the years we have driven by that home in Nashville just to see the tree. A six-foot spruce grew into an enormous tree during that time.


Everyone loves the lighting ceremonies at the White House and in Rockefeller Center. Spectacular! But why a tree?  Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. We owe so much to the Germans. They also gave us the beautiful carol, O Tannenbaum/O Christmas Tree.

O Christmas Tree
O Christmas Tree

It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the same for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.


Most 19th century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. These settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans. By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the   U. S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about 4 feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.


Some interesting 2011 U. S. statistics-

Number of real Christmas trees sold each year               33 million

Number of artificial trees                                                 9.5 million

Number of Christmas trees growing on farms                 350 million

Number of people employed by the industry                   100,000

Percentage who purchased a pre-cut tree                          84%

Percentage who cut down own tree                                   16%

Amount spent on all trees                                                  $1.74 billion


I see them as a strong, visual reminder of the advent of Christ. Evergreen, ever-living, eternal is our Lord! They are like an announcement; something special is about to take place. There is a splendor about them, almost regal. Homes, streets, neighborhoods, even villages seem to be preparing for the arrival of a royal visitor. Those shepherds and visiting Magi surely saw something special in the skies. The trees and the decorations are about recapturing their visions. The star or angel on the top of most trees are heralding that the Christ has come and is coming again. Hallelujah!!!


Trees have been prominent from the very beginning to the end of creation. The tree of life and the knowledge of good and evil were in the Garden. Jesus was hung on a tree for our salvation. And as recorded in Revelation 22:2 we see their significance in the new heaven and new earth. “In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Maybe the German Christians saw something from this verse that led them to display an evergreen tree in the streets of their village and decorate it with fruit. Just maybe!


So, this Christmas, let’s choose a great tree, decorate it to suit your taste, and to glorify God. But let each of us, as we are admiring the many beautiful trees, the ornaments and décor, look beyond all of that to the One to whom all these trees are pointing. Jesus is the ‘reason for the season’ and why we anticipate His birth, and His return. Then we won’t need a tree as a reminder; we’ll be in the presence of the Tree of Life, eternally. Plug in the lights; it’s Christmastime!!! Hark the herald angels are singing again! I love it!!

Rockefeller Center 2014

Copyright 2014

Bill C. Dotson



Scripture is taken from the New King James Version

Information provided by Statisticbrain.com and History.com

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