Needless to say, I didn't eat a can of frosting tonite but the remains of the continuous pot of chicken noodle soup that I've had on ready since that wretched virus first took hold of my unsuspecting immune system. I fiddle-farted around on the net, watched a bunch of anime and now I feel better than I have for the past few days. Well enough, I think, to go ahead with the Xmas (it's Greek, remember?) Faqt™ of the day.
So, how did this tree business get started? Why do many people (even non-Christians) hack down a defenseless fir tree and drag it indoors where the needles get stuck in the carpet until next July when Dad finally gets fed up with doing the pointy dance on the way to his easy chair every morning and rips it out to stay with the hardwood floor? Well, you can blame the British monk and missionary, St. Boniface in the first half of the 700s A.D. He was preaching a sermon on the nativity to a tribe of Germanic Druids outside the town of Geismar. To convince the idoltors that the oak tree was not sacred and inviolable, he felled one on the spot. (I imagine this would be like chopping down a cross in a modern-day churchyard.) Toppling, it crushed every shrub in its path except for a small fir sapling. Boniface, attempting to win converts, interpreted the fir's survival as a miracle, concluding, "Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child." Subsequent Christmasses in Germany were celebrated by planting fir saplings.(Possibly to replace the oaks Boniface had felled to build a pen for his big, blue Ox... or is that a different story?)
"We do know with greater authority that by the sixteenth century, fir trees, indoors and out, were decorated to commemorate Christmas in Germany. A forest ordinance from Ammerschweier, Alsace, dated 1561 states that 'no burgher shall have for Christmas more than one bush of more than eight shoes' length.' The decorations hung on a tree in that time, the earliest evidence we have of, were 'roses cut of many-colored paper, apples wavers, glit, sugar.'
"It is a widely held believe that Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles."*
From there it spread to western Europe, eventually across the ocean to America in the late 1800s.
* (This post contains excerpts from Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati, pgs 69-70)