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A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today

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Christmas: Why trees?

What have Christmas trees got to do with Jesus' birth?

The practice of decorating trees has been found in many ancient cultures. Often, trees were brought indoors and decorated to ensure a good crop for the coming year. The tradition of the modern Christmas tree was likely started in the 8th century with St. Boniface, a Christian monk who was working and living amongst the Germanic tribes.

The people there used oak trees as part of their ancient religious worship. The oak trees would be decorated for the winter solstice. The story is told that St. Boniface cut down an enormous oak tree that was central to the worship of a particular tribe in defiance of this faith. To the surprise of everyone, a fir tree grew in its place.

The fir tree was offered as a symbol of Christianity, which the newly converted Germans began decorating for Christmas.

Prince Albert, who was German, introduced the Christmas tree to England after his marriage to Queen Victoria in 1840.

Did you know? For many years small candles were used to decorate Christmas trees. In 1882 Thomas Edison's assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea to electric lights instead of candles.

Whether it is a candle or an electric light, it still helps Christians to remember that Jesus is 'The Light of the World' (John 8:12).

What do you think 'Light of the World' means?