Christmas: a Christian tradition

By Beth Ann Conahan
December 7, 2000

Joe Holden

by Beth Conahan
assistant news editor

Pull out the decorations and put a bounce in your step. It’s the holiday season again and almost everyone seems to be in the mood for the celebration.

It doesn’t matter if you celebrate with a decorated tree and leave cookies out for a man with a fluffy, white beard, if you deck the halls in red, black and green or if you place a menorah in the window, it’s a season to celebrate.

In a lot of homes these days, Christmas trees are dropping needles onto cushy carpeting and stockings are lining fireplaces, children are scrawling letters to Santa Claus and addressing them to the North Pole and people are pondering that something special to give to the people they love.

No one is asking where Christmas came from, but it’s time to find out anyway.

Would you believe the Christmas tree has pagan origins? The Puritans frowned on it for precisely this reason and shunned the whole holiday in 1875. The beautifully decorated trees we see now have roots that reach back to 725 AD. St. Boniface was a missionary to the Germans who chopped down one of their sacred trees to end the sacrifices taking place there. He replaced the oak with a fir, decorated to honor Christ.

A gift-giver who goes by many names emerged in this time when Christian symbols and Germanic mythological figures began to blend together. St. Nikolaus, Klaus, Nickel, Sunnerklas, Seneklos, Pelznickel, Knecht Ruprecht, Weihnachtsmann, Christkindl and, of course, Santa Claus. Before 1822, he could be seen riding a white horse, a reindeer, a mule or a goat. In 1822, he traded the whole farm in for eight reindeer. Clement Clarke Moore wrote “Twas the night before Christmas.” and changed the species of Santa’s transportation forever.

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Beth Ann Conahan

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