The Christmas Tree And The Bible |

Christmas book logo Chapter 16

Jer 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. Jer 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.


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Origin of the Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree and Our Relationship With Christ

If one wants to evoke thoughts of Christmas and thoughts of idolatry, there is no image more readily suited for the job than that of a Christmas tree. The universal acceptance of the Christmas tree makes it the premier example of collective pagan idolatry in the world today. The Christmas tree has its roots planted deep within the heart of paganism where they bathe themselves in the crimson tide of the greatest abomination of heathen ritual: human sacrifice.

The Christmas tree has its roots planted deep within human sacrifice.

Behind the Christmas tree’s sparkling needles lay bloodthirsty branches supporting a dangerously deceptive trap and lure which competes for the religious affections of mankind and draws humanity away from Christ. First, the tree has been the emblematic quintessence of pagan idolatry far deeper into the pages of history than the two thousand years since Christ walked the earth. Second, the influence of the tree has been so detrimental, the Bible gives us a clear warning about its use including a description that is accurate enough for any first-grader to immediately understand the Bible is describing what we now call a Christmas tree. Third, the tree is so fondly perceived today, many if not most people fail to recognize that it is an idol. Finally, as the world gathers beneath the umbrage of the Christmas tree and its pagan cousins, serious-minded followers of God must ponder the immortal words of 2 Corinthians 6:17: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. Each of these points will be examined in order.

Pagan Influences Leading to the Christmas Tree

Some people say Martin Luther invented the Christmas tree. This is not true. William Walsh, who wrote The Story of Santa Klaus says "This is a very pretty legend, but it is legend and not history" (Walsh 113). He goes on to say it deserves no more credit than folklore or fairy tales. Joe Perry who wrote Christmas in Germany: A Cultural History says "A much-reproduced 1856 engraving of Luther and his family singing songs around a decorated tree was a historicist fantasy; it nonetheless helped popularize the tree in Protestant households" (Perry 32).

The Christmas tree will be shown here to have evolved from pagan practices predating not only Luther but Christ Himself. Some people also say Martin Luther invented the custom of lighting the Christmas tree using candles. Mr. Miles who wrote the well-researched book Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan says this claim "belongs to the region of legend" (Miles 265). Mr. Miles gives as proof 2 letters written in the 17th century which describe Christmas trees. Neither of the letters mentions lights or candles. On a more practical note, since Luther lived before the advent of electricity, the custom of lighting the actual tree with real candles would have been quite dangerous for the average family given the flammable nature of a dead pine tree. On a more Christian note, it would not lend any credibility to the practice even if Martin Luther had introduced the idea of lighting the Christmas tree. The tree itself is still of pagan origin and has nothing whatsoever to do with worshipping our Lord and Savior from a Biblical perspective no matter what man conceived of the idea.

Image showing the Assyrian sacred tree
Image by Daderot from Wikimedia Commons

One need not spend long hours in research to find people throughout history have incorporated trees into their religious activities. The tree being the largest of plants readily lends itself to majesty in the worship of nature. Sometimes the tree itself is worshipped; other times the tree is viewed as a conduit to a god or as an object integral to the religious operations. Sometimes an altar is set up beneath a tree; other times the tree is the altar. Venerated trees are often called groves. This is true whether one is speaking of a group of trees or a single tree. In pagan rites, the grove is often a single tree, and the grove can be in the forest among other trees, or it can be moved indoors.

Historically, groves were often dedicated to one or more pagan gods. Offerings were either placed beneath the grove like the Christmas custom of placing presents beneath the tree or were hung from the branches of a tree like the Christmas custom of decorating a tree. Offerings might be intended for the grove or the pagan god associated with the grove.

The ancient Assyrians had their sacred trees which they purified by sprinkling with a mullilu (pine) cone which had been dipped into a sacred bucket called a banduddu as depicted in the image of the relief here. The relief in this image is dated to the reign of Ashurnasirpal II who ruled from 883 to 859 B.C. This relief provides direct physical evidence that trees were decorated and included in religious rites nearly a thousand years before the birth of our Lord and Saviour which directly contradicts any notion the Christmas tree was developed for the celebration of Christ's birth. This relief also shows the religious operations involved a tree with leaves or needles refuting the popular assertion that pagan practices only involved the use of a bare stick or maypole. This relief was made within about 250 years of when Jeremiah penned his description of groves in Jeremiah 10 giving us an image to go with Jeremiah's description.

Some of the world's oldest and most-read texts also mention the groves from which the Christmas tree gets its roots. Homer’s Iliad is thought to have been written somewhere around 1200 B.C. In it, Homer reveals one of the most familiar descriptions of ancients worshipping at altars beneath a tree.

"We were sacrificing to the immortals in hecatombs without blemish upon the holy altars, about a spring, beneath a fair plane-tree whence flowed the sparkling water. Then appeared a great sign: a serpent, bloody-backed, horrible, whom the Olympian himself sent forth to light, glided from beneath the altar and darted to the plane-tree" (Homer 26).

Herodotus, who wrote in the 5th century B.C., tells of Xerxes being so enamored with a tree that he decorated it with gold ornaments and left one of his elite guards to care for it.

"Xerxes, who chose this way, found here a plane tree so beautiful, that he presented it with golden ornaments, and put it under the care of one of his Immortals" (Herodotus 27).

Decorating trees is a common element in ancient writings. The tree has throughout history been so interwoven into the tapestry of paganism one may often have trouble discerning where reality ends and myth begins as shown in the following quote where the "golden fleece" from a ram sacrificed to Zeus is nailed to a tree in a grove dedicated to the pagan god Ares.

"And Phrixus sacrificed the ram with the golden fleece to Zeus the god of Escape, and the fleece he gave to Aeetes, who nailed it to an oak in a grove of Ares" (Apollodorus 77).

Virgil also wrote about tree worship. Here, he reveals that some trees were sacred to Jove (Jupiter) and that the Greeks believed oak trees were oracles.

"a class springs from seed that has dropped on the ground; as tall chestnuts, and the giant of the woods, the mast-tree, that bears foliage sacred to Jove, and oaks, revered as oracles by Greece . . . These methods nature first ordained; by them blooms every kind of forest-trees, and shrubs, and hallowed groves" (Virgil 43).

Virgil died before Christ was born which again shows pagan rituals involving trees and groves predate any use of a tree in worshiping Christ. The practice of worshipping in groves has historically taken place at all times of the year. However, December and more broadly the winter has always been a favorite time to connect religious operations with evergreen trees because the evergreens were seen to have power over the dark days of winter since they retain their color and their leaves throughout the year.

"In the Faunalia, celebrated on the Nones of December in honour of Faunus, they sacrificed He Goats, and made Libations of Wine: Their Place of meeting for that purpose was in the heart of the Woods" (Banier 311).

In Chapter 14 of this writing, the Pine tree was shown to be sacred to the cult of Cybele. The Pine tree is one of Cybele's trademark items. Also, the Dendrophoria was shown to be a ceremony connected with sacrifices to the pagan god which involved worshippers carrying trees through the streets. These rituals also involved wrapping the base of the sacred tree in wool similar to the practice of using Christmas tree skirts today.

"Arnobius makes mention of that performed in the sacrifice of Cybele, consisting in carrying a pine through the city, and afterwards planting it, in memory of the pine, under which Attys, the favourite of the goddess, is said to have been mutilated. The branches of this tree they crowned, in memory of Cybele doing the same; and they covered its trunk with wool, Cybele having so covered the bosom of Attys. The persons by whom the tree was carried were called Dendropbori" (Bell 229).

Chapter 11 showed how the oscilla or masks used at the Saturnalia were connected to medicine masks which were believed to be a conduit to the blessing or healing abilities of a "sacred" tree from which the masks were carved. These masks were also shown to likely be a replacement for human sacrifice. As already shown, tree worship is not limited only to the cults of Cybele. The following quote reveals the Celts also used trees as idols to represent their gods.

"The incarnate god was probably representative of a god or spirit of earth, growth, or vegetation, represented also by a tree" (MacCulloch 162).

Trees were integral in Celtic religious operations. The learned class of the Celts which acted as priests, teachers, and judges were known as Druids which literally translates to "knowing the oak" ("Druid"). According to MacCulloch, Druids claimed superiority to kings and called themselves creators of the universe. Modern-day Druids like their ancient predecessors share a religious affinity for all things nature. However, their pagan practices are thankfully void of the extreme nature of the pagan ceremonies practiced by their forefathers which are described in the following quote by MacCulloch.

"The Celts made their sacred places in dark groves, the trees being hung with offerings or with the heads of victims. Human sacrifices were hung or impaled on trees, e.g. by the warriors of Boudicca. These, like the offerings still placed by the folk on sacred trees, were attached to them because the trees were the abode of spirits or divinities who in many cases had power over vegetation" (MacCulloch 198).

One needs little imagination to see the link between modern-day Christmas tree balls and ornaments hung on Christmas trees today and the human heads which the Druids hung on their trees so long ago. While the practices have become tamer over time, the origin of the practice is born out of human sacrifice which relates directly to why the Bible tells us not to worship God in the same manner the pagans worship their gods.

Deu 12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
Deu 12:31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
Deu 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

These Bible verses tell us not to worship God in the same manner the pagans worship their idols, and they also tell us not to add to or take away from the rituals God has given us to follow. Christmas and the Christmas tree are both additions. The Bible does not instruct us to celebrate the birth of Christ, and it specifically prohibits the use of trees in religious rites as we will soon see. The reason for this is obvious. The use of trees in religious rites has a very dark and disturbing history.

The abominations of the heathens worshiping in the groves are well documented. Here, Jordanes offers a view of how the Goths used their groves in service to Mars.

"Now Mars has always been worshipped by the Goths with cruel rites, and captives were slain as his victims. They thought that he who is the lord of war ought to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. To him they devoted the first share of the spoil, and in his honor arms stripped from the foe were suspended from trees. And they had more than all other races a deep spirit of religion, since the worship of this god seemed to be really bestowed upon their ancestor" (Jordanes 12).

Tree worshiping appears to be universal, and the rituals associated with tree worship often involve decorating the idolized tree with human parts as in the above quote or with simple materials as in the next quote.

"The Arabs of Yemen used, before the introduction of Islamism, to worship an enormous date-tree. Chardin and Sir William Ousely have given many curious details of the worship of trees in Persia; a practice dating from the most remote antiquity. These trees are generally planes or cypresses. They are called Dirakht i fazel, or 'excellent trees,' and the Persians cover them with nails, bits of cloth, rags, and other offerings, just as we see the Irish decorate a tree or bush in the same remote rocky solitudes even in the present day. A cypress near Persepolis was for a long time an object of pilgrimage, and near Naktchuan, in Armenia, there is an aged elm which is held in high esteem." (Colburn 387).

Although each culture may perform their tree worshipping rituals slightly differently, the idea of tree worship is universal in time and place.

"Now in all times and in all countries we find records of the worship, at some former period, of a tree as a divinity,—in other words as a god.
Greatest and most famous of all these sacred trees was a quite imaginary one which the Scandinavians called the ash-tree Yggdrasil. Nobody had ever seen it, but everybody among these imaginative people believed in its existence.
It was supposed to be a tree so big that you could not possibly picture it to your fancy, which encompassed the entire universe of sun and moon and stars and earth. And it had three roots, one in heaven, one in hell and one on earth."
(Walsh 100).

Rituals involving trees are not reserved for some ancient period; the following quote involving humans being killed in groves is much more recent. It comes from a Christian missionary to Akure in the Ondo state of Nigeria in 1899.

"Immolations at burial seem to have been put an end to, but infanticide of twins is still practiced; there is a great grove set apart for that purpose and dedicated to the god "Olika," who is supposed to have charge of twin children; he was wont to be appeased every third year with a human victim, but since my arrival, with a sheep and other minor sacrifices. The people have such dread of twin children, that when they are born, the fetish priest or priests are notified, and they repair to the house and remove the children, whether dead or alive, in a pot covered up with a cloth with comparatively costly ceremony into the grove; on the seventh day the mother is expelled from the town to an isolated bush for three lunar months. Captain Lowie, the Government officer, with his interpreter and myself, inspected the grove a fortnight ago, and we found about 300 pots containing the remains of such children smothered to death a few hours after their birth. A recent case of the removal of twin children into the grove is now being investigated, and it is hoped that an end may be put to the practice among the people" (Ogunbiye 44).

These are the abominations God is talking about in Deu 12:31 quoted above. This type of thing was going on in groves when God inspired Moses to write Deuteronomy around 1405 B.C., and these same abominations involving children were being carried out in groves as recently as 1899 as the above quote reveals. The Christmas tree is most certainly a remnant of the pagan grove. This fact is not a well-guarded secret.

"It [Christmas tree] is a kind of sacrament linking mankind to the mysteries of the woodland" (Miles 264).

Clement Miles who authored the book Christmas in Ritual and Tradition says the Christmas tree is a sacramental link to the mysteries of the woodland. Mr. Miles goes on to say the Christmas tree is derived from the same primitive sacraments that the maypole was derived from.

"All things considered, it [Christmas tree] seems to belong to a class of primitive sacraments of which the example most familiar to English peoples is the Maypole. . . . Mannhardt has shown that such sacraments embody the tree-spirit conceived as the spirit of vegetation in general, and are believed to convey its life-giving, fructifying influences. Probably the idea of contact with the spirit of growth lay also beneath the Roman evergreen decorations, so that whether or not we connect the Christmas-tree with these, the principle at the bottom is the same." (Miles 271).

Nissenbaum who wrote The Battle for Christmas came to the same conclusion about the pagan nature of the Christmas tree.

"And thus the Yule log, the candles, the holly, the mistletoe, even the Christmas tree - pagan traditions all, with no direct connection to the birth of Jesus" (Nissenbaum 4-5).

Mr. Hewitt who wrote The Christmas Tree came to the same conclusion as well.

"The Christmas tree originated in Northern Europe from pre-Christian Pagan cultures" (Hewitt 5).

These well-respected authors, as well as every other researcher who delves into the history of the Christmas tree, inevitably comes to the same conclusion: the Christmas tree originates in paganism. One could fill a book with quotes stating this simple fact. These authors and researchers come to this conclusion, not through some sort of animosity toward Christmas but simply because the evidence is so powerful and so prolific as to make this fact indisputable. However, one need not accept their statements without investigation. One can delve into the specifics which led each of these people to make such definitive statements. MacCulloch retrieved some of the information he wrote about the Druids from Lucan’s Pharsalia which tells about the civil war between Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate forces under the command of Pompey the Great. Lucan painted a gloomy picture of a Druid grove.

"Not far away, for ages past had stood
an old unviolated sacred Wood;
Whose gloomy boughs, thick interwoven, made
A chilly cheerless everlasting shade,
There, nor the rustic Gods, nor Satyrs sport,
Nor Fawns and Sylvans with the Nymphs resort:
But barbarous Priests some dreadful Power adore,
And lustrate every tree with human gore,
If mysteries in times of old received,
And pious ancientry be yet believed,
There nor the feathered Songster builds her nest,
Nor lonely dens conceal the savage beast:
There no tempestuous winds presume to fly,
Even Lightnings glance aloof & shoot obliquely by,
No wanton breezes toss the dancing leaves,
But shivering horror in the branches heaves.
Black springs with pitchy streams divide the ground,
And bubbling tumble with a sullen sound.
Old Images of forms misshapen stand,
Rude and unknowing of the Artist's hand;
With hoary filth begrimed each ghastly head
Strikes the astonished gazer's soul with dread"
(Lucan 121).

Lucan goes on to describe how Julius Caesar’s men refused to cut down the grove described above until Caesar himself took up an ax and struck the first blow while proclaiming he was taking full responsibility for the desecration.

Pagan mythology is ripe with tales of golden or silver sacred trees and tales of other sacred trees decorated by some supernatural ability to produce numerous kinds of fruits and nuts simultaneously. These trees were said to be a connection to the divine world and were believed to be capable of bestowing magical powers upon mortals who participated in some ritual involving the tree. According to MacCulloch, the Celts believed the life of a king was connected to the life of a tree called a sacred tree or Irish bile. He goes on to say, "the divine tree became the mystic tree of Elysium, with gold and silver branches and marvelous fruits" (MacCulloch 163). Virgil’s Aeneid tells the tale of Aeneas who is led by doves to a tree bearing the "golden bough" which he must possess in order to enter the underworld.

"They winged their flight aloft, then stooping low,
Perched on the doubletree that bears the golden bough.
Through the green leaves the glittering shadows glow,
As on the sacred oak the wintry mistletoe,
Where the proud mother views her precious brood,
And happier branches which she never sowed.
Such was the glittering, such the ruddy rind,
And dancing leaves that wantoned in the wind.
He seized the shining bough with griping hold,
and rent away with ease the lingering gold; . . .
These rites performed, the prince without delay,
Hastes to the nether world his destined way.
Deep was the cave, and downward as it went
From the wide mouth a rocky rough descent.
And here the access a gloomy grove defends"
(Virgil's Æneid 135).

An article about the golden bough at shows the term was connected to the worship of Diana.

"The Golden Bough also appears in other legends, particularly in connection with the goddess Diana. According to some accounts, it was a custom among worshippers of Diana for a slave to cut a branch from a sacred tree and then kill the priest responsible for guarding the tree. The slave took the priest's place and was later killed himself in the same way." ("Golden Bough").

This swapping of places between a priest and a slave in this quote is reminiscent of the Saturnalian custom of masters and slaves swapping roles as described in Chapter 4 of this writing. The fact that both the priest and the slave who took his place ended up being killed emphasizes the brutality of grove worship. The Bible confirms the brutality of grove worship as well.

The Christmas Tree in the Bible

2Ch 28:1 through 4 tell about Ahaz who was not a good ruler in God’s view. 2Ch 28:3 tells us he sacrificed his children to pagan idols. 2Ch 28:4 tells us he sacrificed "under every green tree." That phrasing leaves no doubt that Ahaz was including evergreen trees in his religious operations. In 1Ki 16:33, the Bible tells us Ahab "did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." The Bible starts that verse off by telling us "Ahab made a grove." Of all the horrible things Ahab did, God chose to emphasize his engagement in grove worship to help make the point of how he displeased the LORD. In 2Ki 17:15, the Bible tells us the people were rejecting God and copying the practices of the pagans around them. One of the examples the Bible gives us in the next verse for something they were copying from the pagans was the making of a grove. The grove was such a lure to the people of God, that He tells us to not plant any tree near the altar of God.

Deu 16:21 Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.

The implication here is that God does not approve of the use of a tree in our service to Him. The Christmas tree is certainly used as a religious object supposedly in service to our LORD and Savior. God repeatedly tells His people to tear down the groves as in Jdg 6:25.

1Ki 15:11 tells us Asa "did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD." One of the things we are told he did in 1Ki 15:13 was remove his own mother from being queen "because she had made an idol in a grove." 2Ki 22:2 tells us Josiah "did that which was right in the sight of the LORD." In 2Ki 23:7, we learn that Josiah tore down the houses of the women who were weaving hangings for the groves. These Bible verses seem to indicate women may be especially susceptible to the enticements of nature. Historians agree that women have traditionally had a particular fondness for grove worship. Mr. E.K. Chambers who wrote The Mediaeval Stage states that men and women had separate cults in days gone by.

The interest of women lay in the dim recesses of the impenetrable grove.

He says the men worshiped animals while the interest of women lay in "the dim recesses of the impenetrable grove" (Chambers 106). As we return to the Bible, 2Ki 23:6 tells us Josiah removed a grove out of the temple. This shows the groves were mobile. Today, we tend to think of a grove as a stand of trees growing. The groves involved in worship were at times live trees growing in the forest, but at other times, they were clearly mobile as shown here. Another Biblical example that shows the groves were mobile is in Jer 10:3 through 5 which will be examined in a moment.

First, let's look at the connection between those verses and the "queen of heaven" which is especially exposed as a lure to the Israelites in the Bible. The "queen of heaven" was shown in chapter 14 of this writing to be synonymous with the pagan deity Cybele. In addition, that chapter showed the tree was sacred to the cults of this pagan deity known in the Bible as the "queen of heaven." We know the "queen of heaven" was being worshiped by Israelites during the time of Jeremiah because he speaks of her in Jer 7:18 and other verses. Shortly after first mentioning the "queen of heaven," Jeremiah shows the pagan religious rites of the people of his day also involved bringing trees into their homes and decorating them in the following verses. These verses also show the mobility of a grove in that a grove could be created by cutting a tree out of the forest, bringing it indoors, and decorating it.

Jer 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. Jer 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. Jer 10:5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

These verses are so simple to understand that a child will readily recognize they are describing what is now known as a Christmas tree. Notice that Jeremiah states the trees "must needs be borne." This aligns with the practices of Cybele's cults who paraded pine trees through the streets, and it also reiterates the mobility of the grove.

We know the "queen of heaven" was a major stumbling block for the people of God during Jeremiah's time because the book of Jeremiah is the only book of the Bible to mention her by name. One of the religious rites likely done in service to this pagan idol was the decorating of the tree and bringing it into the home. Whether this ritual was performed for Cybele or not is of little consequence because the custom is clearly condemned by God through his prophet Jeremiah. This is the same custom which is now the main symbol of Christmas. These trees cut down out of the forest and decked with silver and gold as described here were being brought into the homes of pagans during Jeremiah’s day, and they are still being brought into homes and even churches around the world today. Somewhere and sometime between then and now they have acquired the name Christmas trees. However, they are still the same tree that is cut down out of the forest, brought into the home or church, and decorated. The message from God is still the same today as it was when Josiah removed a grove out of the temple in 2Ki 23:6 and as it will be in the future:

Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

Would God be any more accepting of a Christmas tree in a church now than he was with its predecessor in the temple during Josiah's time? We must not learn the way of the heathen. We must not bring the grove into our homes in the form of a Christmas tree. The custom of cutting a tree, bringing it inside, and decorating it is a vain custom according to the Word of God. Calling the decorated tree a Christmas tree does not change that fact.

Throughout the Bible, we are told that the people of God polluted the house of God with the abominations of the heathen. One such instance is found in the following verse.

2Ch 36:14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem.

God does not change; He still views bringing a tree into the sanctuary as polluting the sanctuary. People who consider themselves followers of God have not changed either; some still pollute houses of worship by bringing Christmas trees into them.

Christmas Tree Worship

There is no image more readily suited for the job of conjuring warm Christmas feelings than that of a Christmas tree. This fact is confirmed in the circumstance that the Christmas tree is at the heart of virtually every Christmas related event on television. Whether the event is a commercial depicting an F-150 pulling a giant evergreen on a trailer or some movie showing a family gathering for the holidays, the image which conjures the thoughts of Christmas is unquestionably the tree. Even an old raggedy and hastily decorated tree will suffice, for surely an image of Christ Himself would be no match for any glistening tree in bringing thoughts of this day.

These rituals also involved wrapping the base of the sacred tree in wool similar to the practice of using Christmas tree skirts today.

One might presume a day supposedly set aside for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior would have as its emblem that ever-popular albeit misguided representation of Jesus with long flowing hair, ruddy complexion, and elegant white robe. Perhaps, God Himself might be somewhat more forgiving if Christmas did take this image on for its emblematic idol rather than a tree. For, this would lend some sense of credence to the false notion that Christmas is celebrated as the birth of Christ. Nonetheless, in the world of idols, the Christmas tree is second only to the cross in capturing the adoration of many Christians. This must be in some part due to the role the tree plays in the hearts of children.

Ah, those precious memories of childhood. The coming of the tree would signal the beginning of the season. Perhaps dad would bring the tree down out of the attic, or maybe the family would venture into the woods or into a Christmas tree lot to select just the right tree for the season. Then, the family would gather around the tree and decorate it while sipping eggnog, or apple cider, or whatever beverage family tradition demanded. What glorious memories were built when the lights finally illuminated the family's combined work of art. For many families, there would be no singular cohesive event in the measure of a year other than that of decorating the tree.

The anticipation of the cherished event built day by day. Each member of the family wrapped their presents and placed them beneath the tree, and the heap of presents grew steadily beneath that Christmas tree. When visitors arrived, they would inevitably comment on how beautiful the tree appeared, and the family would surely take pride in the comment because the tree in all its glory or in all its disheveled mayhem was the emblem of family unity for the season. The excitement cultivated continuously until it was almost too much to bear.

Oh Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
Not only green when summer's here,
But also when 'tis cold and drear.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy leaves are so unchanging!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me;
How often has the Christmas tree
Afforded me the greatest glee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Much pleasure thou can'st give me.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There's only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!

Would mother like her gift? What about dad? What was in that special present beneath the tree with just the right shape and size to fulfill the year’s greatest desire?

The festive season inevitably conjoined with music, and the lyrical praise of the tree would and still does fill airwaves, schoolhouses, and living rooms adding to the merriment of the season. Famous names like Aretha Franklin, George Straight, Andrea Bocelli, Ivy Levan, Barney, and Harry Connick Jr. readily lend their renditions of Oh Christmas Tree to the ears of the world. The version of the lyrics posted here has God Himself decorating the tree.

With Christmas melodies filling the festive air on the evening before the big day, the family would gather around the tree, and the opening of one present each provided a momentary pacification for the squirming enthusiasm within. Alas, night crawled into memories realm as the first rays of morning light peeked over the horizon. This glorious event propelled the noisome romp of children into their parent’s bedroom heralding the arrival of the day. With parents in tow, each pajama-clad child made its way to the living room where the tree stood guard over that year’s bounty. In a flurry of activity, anticipation was realized and wants were fulfilled as wrapping paper was ripped, crumpled, and tossed to a mound until the space beneath the tree lay bare.

Over the coming days, the tree would serve as a reminder of excitement, holiday cheer, and family unity until its needles began to turn brown. Then, the darkening umbrage of the Christmas emblem which had occupied such a prominent place in the home slowly transformed into a fire hazard and was tossed aside in the same manner holiday cheer and love of humanity succumbed to weltschmerz. Life would return to normal, but the idealized holiday season over which the Christmas tree was emblazoned would occupy cherished memories until the setting up of the tree the following year would breathe renewed life into the season of family and gifting again.

With each cycle of the seasons, the feelings of togetherness were renewed. Surely the season and the tree are forever to be associated in the hearts and minds of children with family, giving, receiving, and most of all togetherness. The tree plays a huge part in the fond memories of childhood, and those children bring within themselves those feeling well into adulthood and eventually to the grave. When the child is aged and steps onto the threshold of eternity and peruses over the events of the lived life, the matured child might wonder what could possibly be wrong with all of this, until reflection reveals that the very heart of it all, the spindle upon which the season and fond memories revolved was the Christmas tree rather than Christ. That faithful tree was there to herald in the season each year. That beautiful tree was there when visitors came. That lovely tree was the hub around which the family gathered. That towering tree with flashing lights stood tall above all the gifts. The family members continually bowed beneath the tree as they each placed and later took presents from beneath its boughs, and in all the excitement, they forgot to bow before the Creator who would have love and togetherness be the manner of the day every day not just for a season. In this manner, the tree becomes the thief who under the guise of providing a feeling of love and togetherness for a season deprives its followers of that feeling for the remainder of the year.

It is a certain fact concerning all of humanity that we recognize the blemishes of others more readily than we perceive our own sin. Even glaring examples such as the lyrics of Oh Christmas Tree which should sting the heart of the Godly are often embraced by those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior.

"Closely akin to the worship of animals is that of plants, and especially trees, and there is much evidence pointing to sacramental cults in connection with the plant-world. . . . Benediction by external contact, again, is suggested by the widespread use in various ways of branches or sprigs or whole trees. The Christmas-tree and evergreen decorations are the most obvious examples;" (Miles 177-78).

Mr. Miles testifies here to the link between the modern Christmas tree and the ancient practice of plant worship. The prominence that the tree has in Christmas celebrations the world over is undeniable and if looked at honestly is nothing short of plant worship.

Christmas Trees Around the World

The tree that shines around the world is the Christmas tree. It crosses all cultural and philosophical boundaries. The secular world and other religions do not object to Christmas. They object to Christ being our Lord and Savior. Pagans, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and even atheists join hand-in-hand with Christians in setting up and decorating Christmas trees because they know the Christmas tree has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ.

"Buddhists also have their own holiday on December 8th, which celebrates the day Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. This holiday, 'Bodhi Day', is celebrated by eating cookies (preferable heart shaped – which matches the leaves of fig, or Bodhi, tree) and rice, drinking milk and decorating trees with bright lights. In Asia, Buddhists decorate fig trees, but since Western climate can be harsh and these trees cannot survive, many Western Buddhists instead decorate evergreen trees. Buddhists decorate these trees with multi-coloured lights which represent the many different paths to achieve enlightenment" (De Jong).

Christmas trees are clearly important to Americans and the world. Many different cultures have various traditions that involve a tree sometime around the winter solstice. Buddhists decorate a tree with lights on December 8th as part of their Bodhi Day celebrations as shown above. That same article explains why many Buddhists even celebrate Christmas.

Next, a Muslim woman says she and her family had Christmas trees when she lived in Lebanon.

"Jaber, a mother of four, lived part of her childhood in Lebanon, where she says they used to decorate the house with a ‘New Year Tree’ around Christmastime and said that her children had always wanted a Christmas tree. ‘It wasn’t foreign for us to put a Christmas tree in Lebanon,’ Jaber said. ‘So when we came here, we did put it for few years, but when I got married, I didn’t put one because I always thought if my kids weren’t good religious enough, their kids and, you know, maybe their other generations, they put a Christmas tree, they would think they’re something else other than Muslim" (Dudar).

The world’s religions unite under the umbrage of trees and more and more often that tree is openly called a Christmas tree.

That article goes on to tell how Jaber finally extinguished all traces of Christmas from her Christmas trees by shaping them into crescent moon shapes and using them during Ramadan. This clearly illustrates how a ritual from one religion is transferred to another religion. In this case, the transfer took from popular Christianity and gave to Islam. Many years earlier, the transfer took from paganism and gave to Christianity. This illustrates that the worship is not about the tenets of the receiving religion, but about the tree as it migrated from paganism to Christianity to Islam.

The world’s religions unite under the umbrage of trees, and more and more often that tree is openly called a Christmas tree. In 2015, the Washington Post published an article about Hindus who celebrate Christmas (Patel). Today, the Christmas tree is truly a worldwide idol. It is not reserved for Christians and Christian countries. One should not be surprised then to find the most expensive Christmas tree in the world in a country not associated with Christianity. Finances Online published a list of the most expensive Christmas trees in 2018 (Gilbert). The Christmas tree in the lobby of the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi topped out the list. The second-place tree was in Japan, the third-place tree was in Hong Kong, and Japan also took the fourth and fifth spots. The top five most expensive Christmas trees were found in countries associated with some religion other than Christianity demonstrating once again that Christmas trees have nothing to do with the worship of Christ. Christians are called to come out from among the world and be separate in 2 Corinthians 6:17. One way to do this is to put away that foolish idol that is loved by the world and is commonly called a Christmas tree.

The Christmas Tree Competes With Christ in the Christian Mind

The majesty of tremendous mountains must surely humble us with their enormity, and they may remind us of the awesome power of our Creator. The beauty of the world around us can be breathtaking and can at moments leave us in silence and awe as we contemplate the wondrous nature of God. The colors of the rainbow must surely bring to recollection our loving and perfect Savior. These are normal reactions. It is perfectly acceptable to admire the beauty of a tree growing in the forest or on the plain, but when we connect that tree to the worship of God, we have crossed a grave line into the world of idolatry.

We sometimes hear Christians recounting their childhood memories of Christmas. Christ is rarely, if ever, the first thing people think of when reminiscing about childhood Christmas experiences. The family gathered around a tree opening presents is often the fondest Christmas memory from childhood. The memory is not of the family gathered around Christ but of the family gathered around a tree. Even if one accepts Christmas as the birthday of Christ, a decorated tree has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ. The same silver and gold decorated tree from Jeremiah 10 is found the world over today at Christmas time. The only difference is the tree is much more elaborate today than then.

The Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations, and the presents become the focus of attention at this season. They fill homes, businesses, schools, and churches alike. The feelings and attachments that should be reserved for Christ alone now become wrapped up in and connected with these objects. These idols, the Christmas tree in particular, stand tall all across the world. They become the center of attention, often displayed in foyers transcending through two or three floors elevating not Christ but the tree and its topper. It is these idols that steal the labors and thoughts of man. We become unwilling or unwitting servants to these objects as we go about our day. We admire the beauty of the shimmering tree, the glow of the blinking lights, and the array of beautiful bows, but where is Christ in these things or in the thoughts stolen by them? These things become distractions even in our churches.

Above all locations, these idols have no place in the sanctuary.

When our entire focus should be on the worship of Christ, suddenly our attention is drawn to a shiny object and thus our mind serves the object, rather than Christ at that moment. How absurd that a dead tree, stripped of its natural glory and adorned with pagan trinkets should remind us of our Tree of Life in any manner. Above all locations, these idols have no place in the sanctuary. There is no Godly purpose they can serve there. The clearest connection between Christmas and paganism is the Christmas tree. We are not called to join the world in setting up a Christmas tree; we are called to be separate from the world. God tells us not to use pagan rituals in our service to Him. He says “thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God" in Deu 12:31 because the pagans have committed “every abomination” in these rituals. The Christmas tree is the perfect example of this. Pagans have hung human body parts in the precursor to the Christmas tree throughout history. They have brought their children in pots to die beneath the trees in so-called sacred groves even as late as 1899. The Christmas emblem is derived from arguably the most abominable idol in the history of abominations.

Is the Christmas Tree Christian?

1. The Christmas tree is the emblem of Christmas.
2. The Christmas tree is an idol.
3. Martin Luther did not invent the Christmas tree.
4. Even if Martin Luther had invented the Christmas tree, that would not make the practice acceptable to God.
5. The Christmas tree is a remnant of grove worship.
6. Groves were dedicated to pagan gods.
7. Groves are often made up of a single tree cut from the forest.
8. Offerings to the grove were either placed beneath the grove like the Christmas custom of placing presents beneath the tree or were hung from the branches of a tree like the Christmas custom of decorating a tree.
9. The custom of decorating a tree and bringing it indoors predates Christ by more than 500 years confirming the Christmas tree was not developed to celebrate Christ but was adapted from pre-Christian religious rites.
10. The use of evergreen trees in pagan rituals in December has been and still is common because pagans believe evergreens have power over the dark days of winter.
11. The custom of using a tree skirt around the base of a Christmas tree is derived from the cults of Cybele covering the trunk of a pine tree with wool in their pagan rituals.
12. Grove worship is connected to the Saturnalia from which many Christmas customs are derived.
13. Grove worship involved human sacrifice where human victims were hung or impaled on trees.
14. Christmas tree ornaments are substitutions for the human heads and other body parts which pagans once hung on their sacred trees.
15. The Bible tells us not to worship God in the same manner pagans worship their idols.
16. The Bible tells us not to add to or take away from the rituals God has given us.
17. Tree worship has existed universally throughout recorded history all over the world.
18. Human sacrifice in connection with groves has been documented as late as 1899.
19. Historians and researchers universally agree the Christmas tree is derived from pre-Christian pagan practices.
20. Pagan rituals involving trees have been used in service to numerous pagan gods all over the world.
21. The Bible connects human sacrifice to religious rites involving trees.
22. The Bible repeatedly condemns the use of trees in religious rites.
23. The Christmas tree is used as part of a religious observation by Christians.
24. The Bible specifically prohibits having any tree near the altar of the LORD.
25. Tree worship is connected to the “queen of heaven” in the Bible.
26. The Bible accurately describes what is now called a Christmas tree and warns against its use.
27. The Christmas tree is idolized as illustrated by the song Oh Christmas Tree.
28. The custom of decorating a tree is a worldwide phenomenon crossing all social, religious, and philosophical boundaries.
29. Christians are called to be separate from the world rather than joining with the world in setting up Christmas trees.
30. The Christmas tree competes with Christ in the Christian mind.

We will now continue our journey with a brief look at additional roles kingdom Plantae plays in Christmas rituals.


God Made Logo
Christmas Book chapter 16

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