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Since evergreen trees do not lose all their leaves and become brown (symbolic of death), they were revered and worshipped by pagans, as symbolic of immortality and fertility. Perhaps the first decorating of an evergreen tree was done by pagans to honor the god Adonis, who after being slain was brought back to life by the serpent Aesculapius. Around the stump of the dead tree (the slain god) coiled the snake Aesculapius, symbol of restoring life (but, in the Bible, the serpent signifies Satan the devil, Genesis 3, Revelation 12:9). From the roots of the dead tree came a different tree — an evergreen tree symbolic to pagans of a god who cannot die. In Egypt, this god was worshipped in a palm tree as Baal-Tamar. Egyptians brought the green date palms indoors, for they signified to them life triumphant over death. The Romans worshipped the fir tree as the same newborn god Baal-Berith, restored to life by the same serpent, and a feast was held in honor of him on December 25th called the “Birthday of the unconquered Sun.” Romans trimmed trees with trinkets and toys during Saturnalia.
Again, all this pagan symbolism shows that the “sacred” tree simply represents Nimrod, who was executed, or cut down, by Shem (Noah’s son) for his apostasy against the Almighty. And, the new tree growing from the stump represents Tammuz, the supposed rebirth of Nimrod.
Catholic St. Boniface in the 8th century completed the catholic conquest of Germany by dedicating the fir tree to the Holy Child to replace the sacred oak of Odin. Martin Luther, strolling home on a clear, star-lit Christmas Eve, was “inspired” to cut a tall evergreen, place lighted candles on it to symbolize the stars and gave it to his children. While lighted and decorated trees date centuries earlier, Luther made the decorated Christmas tree popular. German settlers brought the tree custom to Pennsylvania in the 17th century, while German-born Prince Albert introduced it to England in 1841, a year after his marriage to Queen Victoria. Possibly the first Christmas tree in a church in America was provided by Pastor Henry Schwan, in 1851 at Cleveland, Ohio.
In numerous Bible passages, the “green” tree is associated with false worship and idolatry: Deuteronomy 12:2, I Kings 14:22-23, II Kings 16:1-4, 17:9-10, II Chronicles 28:4, Isaiah 57:3-5, Jeremiah 2:20, 3:6,13, 17:1-2, and Ezekiel 6:13. The aserah, or “groves,” followed the practice of the pagan Canaanites, who cut branches of a live tree, and carved it into a phallic symbol and worshiped it. Obelisks and church steeples of today are a continuation of this pagan fertility sex worship. Such false worship was one of the primary reasons why the Eternal evicted the ten northern tribes of Israel from the Promised Land, and send them captive to Assyria, II Kings 17, especially verses 10-12. Just as the Almighty in old times was angry when His people followed the ways of the heathen, so today, He is angry at those who mix paganism and the laws of God. Judgment and captivity awaits our people, part of modern Israel, unless they repent of following heathen customs.
Jeremiah 10:1-5 may refer to an ancient pagan practice similar to today’s Christmas tree. Frederick J. Haskins, in Answers to Questions, says, “The Christmas tree is from Egypt, and its origin dates from a period long anterior to [before] the Christian Era.”
Professing Christians today do not worship the Christmas tree, but they have continued the same pagan customs of sun worshippers who did indeed worship the evergreen tree as symbolic of their immortal sun-god. God says not to follow pagan practices, Herbert Wernecke, in Christmas Customs Around the World, says that the Christmas tree is the “center of holiday observance” (page 20). Take away the Christmas tree (and the associated greenery and lights), and the customs and traditions of Christmas would be greatly diminished. Although professing Christians claim that the Christmas tree represents immortality and Christ, the “light of the world,” our Savior is definitely not pleased.
Sheryl Ann Karas, author of The Solstice Evergreen: The History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree, tells of her fascination with the “magic” of the Christmas tree, and shows why the tree is so universally admired and adored. The warmth of friends, exchanging of gifts with friends, beautiful light of the decorated tree create an aura which is irresistible (in spite of the fact Karas is a Jew and was denied celebration of Christmas when she was a child). Karas now relishes in the pagan underpinnings for our modern Christmas tree customs:
The evergreen played an influential role in the spiritual life of early societies throughout the world . . . . veneration of the tree dates from at least 4000 years before Christ. Its pervasive symbolism was central to primitive cosmologies, the beliefs about the universe which laid the foundation for every major religion, including Christianity . . . . Many people like to de-emphasize our pagan heritage . . . . Yet paganism is . . . part of our spiritual past. In the case of the Christmas Tree, this knowledge can enrich the celebration of the ritual for even the most fundamentalist Christians and revitalize the winter holidays for those who are not (pages 4-5).
Why did the pagans so revere the tree, especially the evergreen tree? After three years of detailed research, Karas was able to trace the Christmas tree back to the Garden of Eden. Sinful, degenerate man rebelled against God, and the most common deities in pagan religions were the “trinity” of the Sun God, the Mother Earth, and the Sky Spirit. The earth being the temple of the sun, pagan gods and goddesses were worshipped outdoors in naturally protected spots such as under trees. These groves, or “high places” forbidden in the Bible acted as sanctuaries, much like modern churches and cathedrals. They were held to be sacred places, and it was considered sacrilegious to break a branch or cut down one of the trees in such a sacred grove. Trees were held to be houses of spirits, and if a tree was cut, it was believed that the spirit would die. Evergreens came to be most revered, from the Cedars of Lebanon to the Cypress and Pine of China. Evergreens symbolized to pagans eternal life, the belief that life would continue forever. Numerous myths and legends attest to a common pagan belief that man either came from a tree, or his spirit returns to a tree upon death. Thus, the evergreen is a common pagan symbol of rebirth and eternal life. The Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden was rejected by Adam and Eve, and their posterity ever since has yearned to return to that garden and eat of that tree, and live forever. That is why the tree is the central part of the worship of nature religions. That is why the Christmas tree lives on with universal appeal.