Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Origin of the Christmas Tree

From Catholic Straight Answers:
With his band of faithful followers, St. Boniface was traveling through the woods along an old Roman road one Christmas Eve.  Snow covered the ground, muffling their footsteps.  Their breath could be seen in the crisp, cold air.  Although several suggested that they camp for the night, St. Boniface encouraged them to push forward, saying, “Courage, brothers, and forward yet a little.  God’s moon will light us presently, and the path is plain.  Well know I that you are weary; and my own heart wearies also for the home in England, where those I love so dearly are keeping feast this Christmas Eve.  Oh, that I might escape from this wild, storm-tossed sea of Germany into the peaceful haven of my fatherland!  But we have work to do before we feast tonight.  For this is the Yule-tide, and the heathen people of the forest have gathered at the Oak of Geismar to worship their god, Thor; and strange things will be seen there, and deeds which make the soul black.  But we are sent to lighten their darkness; and we will teach our kinsmen to keep a Christmas with us such as the woodland has never known.  Forward, then, in God’s name!”

They pushed ahead, reinvigorated by St. Boniface’s plea.  After a while, the road opened to a clearing.  They could see houses, but dark and seemingly vacant.  No human was in sight.  Only the noise of hounds and horses broke the quiet.  Continuing on, they came to a glade in the forest, and there appeared the sacred Thunder Oak of Geismar.  “Here,” St. Boniface proclaimed as he held is bishop’s crozier high with its cross on top, “here is the Thunder-oak; and here the cross of Christ shall break the hammer of the false god Thor.”

In front of the tree was a huge bonfire.  Sparks danced in the air.  The townspeople surrounded the fire facing the sacred oak.  St. Boniface interrupted their meeting, “Hail, sons of the forest!  A stranger claims the warmth of your fire in the winter night.”  As St. Boniface and his companions approached the fire, the eyes of the townspeople were on these strangers.  St. Boniface continued, “Your kinsman am I, of the German brotherhood and from Wessex, beyond the sea, have I come to bring you a greeting from that land, and a message from the All-Father, whose servant I am.” (Read more.)
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