A Few Thoughts on Symbolism

I stumbled onto a blog that has a post called Symbolism I found interesting.

“What with all the hoo-ha about the Sea-Tac Airport Xmas Tree thang, I thought I’d pose the question: Is a Christmas Tree a religious symbol?

As far as I know, the Christmas Tree’s origins are thus: It is a Pagan symbol of a flaming/burning tree (I can’t remember off the top of my head the purpose but I know it’s Solstice-related – I’m at work so I can’t go look it up right now). Like the Yule Log, it was incorporated into Christian traditions when Rome was trying to convert the Pagan peoples of Europe to Christianity – If you guys join us, we’ll let you keep your tree and log symbols. See what a nice, inclusive religion this is? Now join up or we’ll conquer you. It was a carrot to gain converts. Fair enough, Christianity has always been about marketing and spin (hence the Council of Nicea and the like) in order to gain converts.

On this basis, I believe that the tree is a religious symbol. Either A) It’s a religious symbol for the Pagans or B) it’s a religious symbol by incorporation (same with eggs at Easter re: Pagan fertility beliefs) for Christians. Christmas Trees are found in Christian churches and Christian homes, and are named for the Christian holiday for which people procure them.”

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  1. Jack's Shack December 20, 2006 at 6:55 am

    Hi Stephen,

    I can accept your points, but I still maintain point B covers this.

  2. Stephen December 19, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    I don’t think the source you cite is on firm ground.

    First, I have argued that the date of Christmas was not chosen because of its proximity to the winter solstice.

    Second, the origins of the Christmas tree are usually traced to Germany in the 16th century … long after the Church was trying to compete with pagan faiths.

    On the other hand, I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically Christian about the Christmas tree. It’s perfectly adaptable as a symbol of other things — unlike, for example, the cross.

  3. Jack's Shack December 18, 2006 at 6:29 am


    Good question.


    I can’t say that I know Houston all that well. I think that he is a good guy. This is an emotional issue and I don’t think that everyone is able to separate from it.

  4. Texas Jaye December 18, 2006 at 5:52 am

    Thank you for your wise words over at Houston’s. I love the man and I suppose his views on Christmas won’t change that however I did find his view rather anti-Semitic.

    This whole thing is more hurtful than I realized.

  5. seawitch December 17, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    I wonder what would happen if Wal-Mart started calling Christmas trees winter festival trees?

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