Christmas has been and always will be one of the most cherished and favored holidays. One of my favorite songs is “O, Christmas Tree”. Back in the 700s, there was a monk called Boniface who wanted to let people know that oak trees were neither scared nor magical. He wanted everyone to understand that it was Christ or the creator of the trees himself that we needed to worship and not the trees.
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So during one Christmas season, Boniface got so frustrated with the pagan rituals which worshipped oak trees that in anger he chopped down a large oak tree. When this mighty oak came crashing down it crushed everything underneath it except for a tiny fir sapling. To Boniface, the survival of this fir sapling seemed a true miracle and from then on people planted fir saplings to celebrate Christmas. As time passed people started to bring the bows of green right into their homes and the custom was to take a small tree and tie it upside down from the rafters just as it was without any decorations.
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Lots of years went by and one day Martin Luther was going through a thick German forest trying to find a fir tree to bring home for Christmas. Suddenly night fell sooner than he expected and he began to be afraid. He started praying and lifted up his head. There in the sky, he saw that the stars were shinning g brightly and would light his way home. When he got home he wanted to give his family a surprise and hang the tree while they were not around. Because of what he had just experienced and in honor of the great star which had led the Wise Men to Bethlehem and the stars which had lighted his way home he decorated the tree with lights.
When he was done he called to his family and they were delighted to see that little tree in a flower pot, on the kitchen table with candles burning bright on its branches. This started a new Christmas tradition and brought about a Christmas song. “O, Christmas Tree” is actually a German Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum” from 1550 but the composer is unknown. The best version was written by a German organist and teacher Ernst Anschutz in 1824 and was soon translated into English. The most popular version of this Christmas carol is:
O Christmas TreeO Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,How lovely are your branches!In beauty, green will always growThrough summer sun and winter snow.O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,How lovely are your branches!O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,You are the tree most loved!How often you give us delightIn brightly shining Christmas light!O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,You are the tree most loved!O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,Your beauty green will teach meThat hope and love will ever beThe way to joy and peace for me.O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,Your beauty green will teach me.