Sunday, December 02, 2007

Our Everlasting Christmas Tree

We broke down and bought an 'everlasting' tree this year. Everlasting is a nicer word than 'artificial'. Aside from not having to water it, clean up the fallen needles, etc. I find it handy that when decorating it I can bend the branches to hold the ornaments and they stay where I put them.

I call it a Christmas tree but if you celebrate some other holiday at this time of year, religious or otherwise, feel free to think of it as a Hanukka tree, a holiday tree or whatever. The tradition of festivals around the winter solstice goes back centuries before the beginnings of Christianity and the Romans used to decorate trees and exchange gifts during their solstice festivals. December 25th isn't really the birth date of Jesus. Christians sort of inherited the tradition from the Roman holiday after Constantine made Christianity the 'official' religion of the empire in 324 CE. No one knew the actual date so the existing holiday was adapted as a matter of convenience.

Given its roots, the flap over whether a public tree is a "Christmas tree" or a "Holiday Tree" in recent years is a bit silly. There have always been a variety of celebrations around the winter solstice based on the hope of renewal that comes with the lengthening days. It is in that spirit that I share our tree of celebration and wish everyone a happy holiday.

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