Why we decorate trees at Christmas

St Boniface, a missionary who came from Devon and took the gospel into Germany in the 8th Century, is said to have used the evergreen fir tree to teach people about eternal life. This may have been the origin of the custom of decorating a fir tree with lighted candles to symbolise the light of the gospel.

The practice of decorating a tree on Christmas Eve may also have come about because the Old Testament lesson set for Christmas Eve in the lectionary is the story of Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. Eve was tempted to eat “the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. To illustrate this, the custom arose of bringing a tree into the church and decorating it with fruit, tempting goodies and attractive, shiny decorations.

Queen Victoria’s German consort, Prince Albert, introduced the practice of decorating the fir tree on Christmas Eve to Britain.

The tree reminds us why Jesus came ­– to die as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind. It reminds us of how he died ­– nailed to a “tree” (an upright piece of wood) and it reminds us also to be strong in resisting temptation and quick to confess and ask his forgiveness when we yield to it.

Find out more interesting facts about Christmas in The Heart of Christmas. obtainable as a paperback or an ebook from www.lulu.com. Also available from the iBookstore.