The other day, someone brought to my attention, Jeremiah 10:1-5. They wondered if this means it’s a sin to have a Christmas tree. When I first glanced over these verses, I wondered too. So I did a little research. Here’s what Jeremiah said:
Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
What exactly were these heathens doing? Were they cutting down a tree, bringing it in the house and decorating it with ornaments. tinsel, popcorn, etc? No, they were cutting down trees and sending them to a craftsman so that he could chisel out an idol for them to worship. This was their god.
When I researched the origin of the Christmas tree, I found that the evergreen fir tree was traditionally used to celebrate winter festivals, both pagan and Christian, for thousands of years. Pagans used the branches to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, because it made them think of the coming spring. In the 16th century, devout Christians in Germany began the practice of having decorated trees in their home.
In 2004, Pope John Paul called the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. He said that this very ancient custom exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the “tree of life” of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity. Christ-mass was celebrated in Rome by 350AD and this is probably the place that the celebration of Christmas originated. The church of Rome has many traditions and most are pagan in origin.
I don’t think Christians today are bowing down before their Christmas tree and worshiping it. So, is it okay for Christians to have a Christmas tree in their homes? What about in their churches? It’s a matter of one’s conscience. While certain elements of Christmas have their origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagans, I think it’s important not to allow these traditions to replace or take precedence over the commemoration of the birth of Christ. Mixing santa clause with Jesus Christ is just plain wrong.