Jeremiah 3:13 Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.
Long before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ evergreens were used by the pagans in their superstitious worship. They took their ability to remain green year round as a symbol of immortality, fertility, and the resurrection of the sun god.
In the northern regions of Europe they were brought inside also under the superstitious notion that the woodland spirits and fairies would live in them during the winter and thus survive the cold. (No doubt this would also give "good luck" to the people as well.) In Italy evergreens were used to decorate in honor of Saturn. (1)
The only place garlands show up in the Bible is in pagan worship. Acts 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. 14 Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15 And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them.
Mistletoe, holly and ivy were especially liked in the vain traditions of the heathen since they bore their berries in the winter thus making them more powerful symbols of the fertility and immortality
Mistletoe figures in the pagan sun god worship. Balder, the sun god, was supposed to be immune to all forms of destruction because of spells cast by the other gods. The only thing they missed was mistletoe and so Loki, the evil god contrived to have Balder (probably Balderdash) killed by an arrow made of mistletoe. After the other gods brought Balder back to life, the mistletoe promised never to hurt anyone again. It became the symbol of love. (1) Perhaps because of this legend, perhaps for other reasons, it was worshipped by the Druids. "They also used it to cast spells, the principal belief being that if they held it over a woman's head she was powerless to resist, and they could then have their way with her sexually. From this comes our custom of hanging it over doorways, and the tradition that if a girl in caught under the sprig of mistletoe she may be kissed and may not resist. As it all had to do with fertility and sex, the berries on the sprig made its power more potent."(2) Mistletoe is still considered worth more if it has berries.
And if that isn't enough for you, "The practice is believed to have originated with orgiastic celebrations in connection with the Celtic Midsummer Eve ceremony when the mistletoe was gathered. During that festival the men would kiss each other as a display of their homosexuality. The custom was later broadened to include both men and women.
"Some historians believe that kissing under the mistletoe is reminiscent of the temple prostitution and sexual license that was most prolific during the Roman Saturnalia." (3)
The "Christmas tree" is a one of the most symbolic aspects of this pagan tradition. There is more than one significance in the abomination. "Almost every culture has some such tradition."(3)
Its' rise in popularity was greatly aided outside of Germany when in 1841 Prince Albert had one set up at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria and their children. Charles Dickens' stories added to the popularity of the celebration in general at about the same time.
It is described in the Bible: Jeremiah 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. 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. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 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. This clearly shows that the custom of bringing in a tree and decorating it is associated with the signs of the heaven -- the winter solstice in this case -- and the Lord God does not want His people learning to do these things. Added to this is the fact that when blip went into apostasy they sacrificed under green trees and God punished them for it. Ezekiel 6:13 Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols. Offering sweet savours to idols under a green tree does sound somewhat like putting presents under a "Christmas tree" does it not?
As to the symbolism of the thing, first of all, it is evergreen. This in itself was a symbol as has already been discussed but all of them seem to tie in together.
Then "The Egyptians believed that the fir tree sprang from the grave of their god Osiris who, after being murdered, was resurrected through the tree."(3) This then, coming from Nimrod's original cult and being passed from Babylon all over the world, is the basic meaning of the so-called Christ Child tree. It is a symbol of the slain and resurrected god, but it is Satan's counterfeit "christ" not our Lord Jesus. It is anti-christ!
An old Scandinavian song runs:
O fir tree clad in solemn green,
How steadfast are thy colors!
The summer blaze or winter chill
Thy noble verdure graces still;
O fir tree clad in solemn green,
How steadfast are thy colors! (4)
This stems from their belief that the green of the fir tree indicated its power over the evil spirits of winter, thus their veneration of the evergreen. "...when the sun returned in late December and heralded another victory over the powers of cold and dark, they enshrined it with ancient ritual, accompanied by tribal chants and high feasting."(4) (The yule log and feasting will be discussed elsewhere.)
Though probably related, there were also other superstitions surrounding the bringing in of the tree. "For ages evergreen trees would be brought into the house during winter as magic symbols of luck and hope for a fruitful year to come."(3) [See, also "Christmas Caroling."]
According to A Dictionary of Symbols, by J. E. Cirlot, the anti-christ-mass tree is also a symbol in the sense of being a pyramid. "...in European folklores...[the pyramid] is symbolic of the earth in its maternal aspect. Pyramids with Christmas decorations and lights, moreover, express the twofold idea of death and immortality, both associated with the Great Mother." (p. 267)
The symbols of fruitfulness, immortality of the god, and the pyramid shape all fit with what some have claimed, that the "Christmass tree" is indeed a phallic symbol.
2Corinthians 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,
(1) the stories of our Christmas Customs, by N. F. Pearson, Ladybird Books Ltd.
(2) Holidays and Holy Days, by Tom C. McKenney
(3) The Origins of Christmas Traditions; http://www.hhs.net/evangout/origins.htm
(4) The Christmas Celebration In Many Lands, by E. G Patterson
backgrounds and most graphics by mary vannattan