The Catholic Defender: St Boniface and The Christmas Tree Tradition
Many people will begin putting up Christmas trees soon after Thanksgiving and many of us can appreciate the imagination that it brings about year after year.
Growing up in the late 1950′s and through the 1960′s I remember at Christmas time the feelings of anticipation for Christmas.
My Mother would have a small Nativity scene set up nearby the tree which associated the tree with the Christ Child.
In those days, Christmas trees were mostly either cut down from the field, or bought in town.
It was always a lot of fun putting up Christmas trees, decorating them and watching the wrapped gifts accumulate under the tree.
The lights, the ornaments, the silver tinsels the smell of the tree takes me back when my family would provide a meaningful Christmas. Christmas time was special throughout the Country.
I remember going into town and you can see the lights on the light poles, homes had outside lights and decorations, stores and shops had Christmas advertisements.
Santa Clause would arrive to give cheer and joy at the malls. I always looked forward to watch “Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”,“Miracle on 34th Street”, all this added to that expectation for Christmas.
I remember my Mother taking me to Midnight Mass growing up.
All of this was building a foundation for me that would help me in my faith in Christ. Because of Christmas, many people shared this faith filled experience growing up. In the early 1980′s, I first heard of those who did not celebrate Christmas.
I was told that the Christmas tree was a “Pagan” ritual. I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever heard. I always felt sorry for those who could not understand the experience in celebrating Christmas. My family always kept Christ in Christmas!
Recently, I was challenged on the internet with this statement concerning Paganism and the Christmas Tree:
"As we all know, Jesus despised paganism. Replacing pagan rituals and decorations with Christian meaning and celebration is not the answer. (Christmas trees are pagan, etc.) Jesus and the apostles honored the Jewish feasts....the Laws the Father put in place and wanted honored, that's something we should pay attention to. It was the Roman Catholic church (which I am a member of since birth by the way) that chose to change the celebrations to distinguish Christian faith from Jewish faith.....I don't think that was necessary or approved by our Lord."
Jeremiah 10:1-5 states, “Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: ‘Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the people are false. A tree from the forest is cut down, and worked with an ax by the hands of a craftsman. Men deck it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.”
I have been challenged by anti-Catholics with this scripture as they believe this is about the Christmas tree.
There is no connection between Jesus Christ, the one true God and “Asherah” who was worshiped as the “Tree of Life”.
As a result of the Tower of Babel,mankind was forced to move on and into the world.
In doing so, many of the foundations were carried down into legend.
In the worship of this pagan goddess “Asherah”, the tree of life was located in a garden. There is also a serpent that was considered sacred to many in the Middle East.
It is obvious that this is based from the story of Adam and Eve. It is obviously modified to a pagan deity.
King Solomon referred to Asherah as “Qaniyatu Elina” which means “She who gives birth to the gods”.
I see counterfeit all over it, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, another hot juicy subject of attack by anti-Catholics.
Jesus is not related to any pagan goddess nor is the Virgin Mary a “christianized” Asherah.
Exodus 34:12-13 states, “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither you go, lest it become a snare in the midst of you. You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Asherim for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice…”
King Solomon allowed these gods to enter into Israel. 1 Kings 14:23 said, “For they also built for themselves high places, and pillars, and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree; and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.”
2 Kings 21:7 states, “And the graven image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord said to David and to Solomon his son, ‘In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever…”
It is clear that the Israelite worshiped these pagan deities and played the Harlot. They made sacrifices to these false gods. This was what Jeremiah was writing about and not the Christmas tree that is used to promote the story of Christmas. The worship of anything outside the One True God would be idol worship.
Today, I have tried to keep alive those traditions I was raised with for my family. That is more difficult with all the commercialism associated with Christmas. Growing up you would start seeing Christmas advertisements after Thanksgiving, today I noticed such advertisements were popping up even around Halloween.
Still, even with all the commercialism, families can still keep the true meaning of Christmas. As long as we can keep the liberals from trying to take Christmas out of society. Our society recently has been embattled by those who attack Christmas.
They have turned away from Christ and want to totally reduce Christmas to a secular “holiday”. The return of ancient Paganism and Hedonism in our culture is attacking the very fabric of society, the family.
One of my Hero’s of the Faith is Bishop Boniface who was born in modern day England in 672 A.D. and from an early age developed a great love for Jesus Christ.
He would become a missionary to the Germanic peoples who were still enslaved by Paganism. St. Boniface is remembered as “The Apostle of the Germans” and today is the Patron Saint of Germany.
He was the first Archbishop of Mainz. The action of St. Boniface in reaching the Pagans (centered in Germany) at his time reminds me very much of Elijah challenging the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:1-46).
In a town called Geismar stood a large Oak tree that held much superstition surrounding it.
The local people in the area called this tree the “Donar Oak” the tree of Thor. When the Romans occupied the land, they called the tree “The Jupiter Tree“. Thor and Jupiter were Pagan gods of “Thunder“.
I am reminded of a song by a secular group known as “Kiss” called “god of thunder” which says,
“I was born on Olympus To my father a son I was raised by the demons Trained to reign as the one
God of thunder and rock and roll The spell you’re under Will slowly rob you of your virgin soul
I’m the lord of the wastelands A modern day man of steel I gather darkness to please me And I command you to kneel Before the
God of thunder and rock and roll The spell you’re under Will slowly rob you of your virgin soul”
Perhaps they were having some fun with this story. It’s pointing to the return of Paganism in our midst today.
St. Boniface began to challenge the people about the superstition of the “Donar Oak” and threatened to cut it down. He challenged the gods to strike him dead for cutting down the tree.
St. Boniface had strong faith and reliance in Christ and as he began to cut the tree down, a great sign appeared among the people.
A great wind erupted causing the people to think this was a miraculous sign. The wind blew the tree down leaving St. Boniface standing there totally unharmed.
I can see him smiling at the event thanking God for showing the people who the true God really is. People believed in Christ through the missionary work of St. Boniface. Many were being baptized and confirmed by the great Bishop of God.
St. Boniface would use the triangle shaped fir tree to teach the doctrine of the Trinity much like St. Patrick used the shamrock.
He would hang the tree from the ceiling at Christmas to represent the peoples faith in Christ.
St. Boniface popularity and fame didn’t protect him from those who thought they could rob him of gold and precious stones.
He died at the hands of those who could not recognize the treasure found in the Word of God. But the people remembered this great man of God and by the 12 century, the tradition of the fir tree was refereed to by the people as “God’s Tree”.
Martin Luther would expand on this tradition by adding candles showing that the light of the candles shown through the darkness.
Our modern day Christmas lights are derived from this. Luther’s intent here was to counteract the Catholic Church’s use of the Nativity scene at Christmas and hoped the Christmas tree with lights would captivate the people.
The people continued to love the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree.
To those of you who believe that the Catholic Church practices Paganism using the Christmas tree, I disagree.
I believe that the Christmas tree used in the tradition of the Church, reminds us of Christ.
He is the light of the world. Who thinks of Thor or Jupiter? No one, certainly not the Christians.
For those of you who want to see the “Christmas tree” as a “holiday tree”, you are allowing “political correctness” to run amok.
I do not believe in X-Mas, it is Christmas.
Here at Deepertruth, we want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!