O, Christmas tree! O, Christmas tree!
from – The Roots of Christian Festivals by David Self
‘The custom of bringing a fir tree indoors and decorating it for Christmas originated in Germany, and it was Prince Albert, the German husband of Queen Victoria, who popularised it in Britain. Holly, ivy and mistletoe were, however, used as Christmas decorations long before “Christmas” trees became commonplace. Because they are evergreens, they have long been symbols of eternal life. Mistletoe in particular was regarded as a sacred plant by, for example, the Druids in the pre-Christian era. It was used as a cure for everything from epilepsy to toothache while holly was said to be a protection against fire and storms.’
From – The Advent Craft and Activity Book, by Verlag Freies Geistesleben
‘People from the old Germanic tribes used to decorate their houses with evergreen twigs and branches during the Holy Nights between 24 December and 6 January. They would hang them above the entrance, suspend them from the ceiling or put them in a corner of the room to ward off bad spirits. The greenery also symbolised vitality and immortality.
‘From the fifteenth century onwards, people began to place whole trees in their homes. Over time, the trees were decorated, first with biscuits, later on with candles, red apples and golden nuts.’
THE LITTLE FIR TREE
At Christmas time so long ago,
The winds were blowing high and low;
A little green fir tree grew by the Inn,
A little green fir tree straight and slim.
‘Noel, Noel!’ the angels sang,
‘Noel, Noel! Goodwill to man.’
And, looking up, across the night
The fir tree saw the star so bright.
The little fir tree wondered why
The star was moving in the sky.
The star shone over Bethlehem
Over the stable inn, and then
The little green fir tree shone with light,
Lit by the star that wintry night.
The fir tree shone so long ago;
And still in winter’s frost and snow,
The little green fir tree comes each year
To bring us joy and Christmas cheer.
by Margaret Rose
THE CHRISMON TREE
Chrismons are Christmas decorations based upon Christian symbols. They help Christians to remember the heart of Christmas celebrations: Jesus.
They were first made by Frances Kipps Spencer at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, USA. She also thought of the word, ‘Chrismon’, which is a combination of ‘Christ’ and ‘monogram’. It is traditional that Christian groups can make their own Chrismons with their favourite, Christian symbols.
HOT SPICED ORANGES
200ml orange or apple juice
2tbsp brown sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp vanilla seeds (from pod) or 1/2tsp vanilla extract
Peel the oranges thoroughly and divide into segments. Cut these in half again lengthwise using a sharp kitchen knife. Arrange the segments in a fan shape in a quiche dish.
Put the juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla into a jug, mix thoroughly and pour over oranges.
Bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 15 – 20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who by your example taught [us] to be kind to one another and generous to those in need; bless all who seek to bring cheer to the hearts of others during the coming days; let your spirit of goodwill be abroad in the world; and help us to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be the praise and glory for ever. Amen.
Day by Day, compiled by Rowland Purton.