The Christmas tree in an Orthodox Christian home
- Dear Fr. Panayioti,
Is the Christmas tree really a pagan symbol in an Orthodox home?
I heard from a parishoner in our church that he was told to remove
the Christmas tree as it is a pagan symbol.
I don't agree. I did some research into the origin of the Christmas
tree. Trees, wreaths, garlands and other plants figured prominently in
the pagan worship of the early Egyptians and Roman and Druid peoples.
I then found the story of St. Boniface. Here is an excerpt:
The earliest story relates how British monk and missionary St.
Boniface (born Winfrid in A.D. 680) was preaching a sermon on the
Nativity to a tribe of Germanic Druids outside the town of Geismar.
To convince the idolaters that the oak tree was not sacred and
inviolable, the "Apostle of Germany" felled one on the spot. Toppling,
it crushed every shrub in its path except for a small fir sapling.
A chance event can lend itself to numerous interpretations, and legend
has it that 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 Christmases in Germany were
celebrated by planting fir saplings.
There are slight variations but this is the story in essence.
Father, I believe in the story of St. Boniface. I would like to
know what you think about the Christmas tree.