History of the Christmas tree

It is told that Saint Boniface, a monk from Crediton, Devonshire, England who established Christian churches in France and Germany in the 7th Century, one day came upon a group of pagans gathered around a big oak tree about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor. To stop the sacrifice and save the child’s life Boniface felled the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place grew a small fir tree. The saint told the pagan worshipers that the tiny fir was the Tree of Life and stood for the eternal life of Christ.

It is also told that Saint Boniface used the triangular shape of the fir tree to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. By the 12th Century, Christmas trees were hung from ceilings as a symbol of Christianity. However, in that time, for a reason no one could yet explain, the trees were hung upside down.

據說Saint Boniface(聖博尼法斯),一個來自英國德文郡克雷迪頓的修道士,於第七世紀,在法國和德國建立了天主教教堂,有一天碰到一個聚集在一顆大橡樹之下,準備要向雷神祭祀一個小孩的異教徒團體。為了阻止此祭祀並拯救這個孩子的性命,博尼法斯用拳頭重擊一下把樹擊倒。在那個地方長出了一小顆冷杉。聖博尼法斯告訴異教徒參拜者那個小冷杉就是代表耶穌綿延不絕的生命之樹。

傳說中Saint Boniface還用冷杉的三角形來描述上帝之父,上帝之子以及上帝聖靈的復活主日。到了12世紀,聖誕樹被從天花板吊起作為基督教精神的象徵。然而,在那時不知為何,樹都是被倒掛著的。




 Father Christmas or Santa Claus

The figure of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) is based on the patron saint of children, Saint Nicholas (270-310AD), who became one of the youngest bishops ever at age 17. At age 30 he became the Bishop of Myra, a port town on the Mediterranean Sea, that is part of modern-day Turkey. He hailed from a rich home and became well known for supporting the needy. He would often be seen, clad in red and white bishop’s robes and riding on a donkey, handing out gifts to children.

During the Middle Ages, many churches were built in honor of Saint Nicholas. In the 11th century, his remains were enshrined in a church in the Italian city of Bari. It is told that the first Crusaders visited Bari and carried stories about Nicholas to their homelands. The anniversary of his death, 6 December, became a day to exchange gifts.

During the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, Martin Luther tried to stop the venerating of saints and the feast of Saint Nicholas was abolished in some European countries. The gift giver took on other names: in Germany, he became Der Weinachtsmann (“Christmas Man”), Pre Nol in France, Father Christmas in Britain and the colonies, and many other names.


聖誕節之父(聖誕老人)的形象是基於一個兒童的守護神(Saint Nicholas) 西元270到310年),在他17歲的時候便成為最年輕的主教。而在他30歲時成為米拉的主教,米拉是一個地中海上的港城,也就是現今土耳其的一部分。他來自一個富有的家庭並且變成廣為人知的救濟家。他常常批著紅白相間的主教袍出現,並且騎著一隻爐子,發送禮物給孩子們。

在中古世紀,很多教堂為了紀念Saint Nicholas而被建造。在11世紀,他的遺骸被置於位於義大利八里市的教堂神龕中。傳說中第一批造訪八里的十字軍,將有關Nicholas的故事帶到他們的家鄉。每年他的忌日-12月6號,就成了交換禮物日。

在16世紀新教徒宗教改革期間,馬丁·路德試著阻止對於Saint Nicholas的欽仰,廢除了一些在歐洲國家的慶典。禮物的施予者被冠上其他名字: 在德國,他成了Der Weinachtsmann (聖誕男人),法國是Pre Nol,而英國以及其殖民地是聖誕節之父,還有很多其他國家各有其名字。




Quick Christmas facts

The 25th of December is celebrated as the birth date of Jesus Christ. The Bible does not mention Christmas, and early Christians did not observe the birthday of Christ. Christmas as we know it became widely popular only in the 19th Century.

Christmas starts on December 25 and ends 12 days later on January 6 with the Feast of Epiphany also called “The Adoration of the Magi” or “The Manifestation of God.”
The concept of “Peace and Joy” over the Christmas season originates from the pagan                       blieve in the magical powers of mistletoe. Enemies meeting under a mistletoe had to call truce until the following day

In Finland and Sweden an old tradition prevails, where the twelve days of Christmas are declared to be time of civil peace by law. It used to be that a person committing crimes during this time would be liable to more stiff sentence than normal.
During the Middle Ages, many churches were built in honor of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Wearing his red and white bishop’s robes, he would ride on a donkey to deliver gifts to children.




在中古時期,很多教堂為了紀念Saint Nicholas-兒童的保護神而被建造




Christmas becomes popular

The popularity of Christmas was spurred on in 1820 by Washington Irving’s book The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall.

In 1834, Britain’s Queen Victoria brought her German husband, Prince Albert, into Windsor Castle, introducing the tradition of the Christmas tree and carols that were held in Europe to the British Empire.

A week before Christmas in 1834, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol (in which he wrote that Scrooge required Cratchit to work).  It was so popular that neither the churches nor the governments could not ignore the importance of Christmas celebrations.

In 1836, Alabama became the first state in the US to declare Christmas a legal holiday.

In 1837, T.H. Hervey’s The Book of Christmas also became a best seller.

In 1860, American illustrator Thomas Nast borrowed from the European stories about Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, to create Father Christmas (Santa Claus).

In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday. Year by year, countries all over the world started to recognize Christmas as the day for celebrating the birth of Jesus.


聖誕節在1820年由於華盛頓·歐文的著作-The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall,促使聖誕節更為流行。


1834 年聖誕節的前一周,查爾斯.狄更斯出版了一本聖誕歌頌(中文譯: 小氣財神) (裡頭寫到守財奴Scrooge如何壓榨Cratchit不斷工作)。其受歡迎的程度讓教會和政府都不得不注意到聖誕節的重要性。


在1837年,T.H. Hervey的書- The Book of Christmas 也成為當時最暢銷書。

1860年,美國漫畫家湯瑪斯‧奈斯特取自歐洲關於Saint Nicholas(兒童守護神)的故事,創造出聖誕節之父(聖誕老人)。






Christmas official, but not generally observed

In 325AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. He also introduced Sunday as a holy day in a new 7-day week, and introduced movable feasts (Easter). In 354AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December.

However, even though Constantine officiated 25 December as the birthday of Christ, Christians, recognizing the date as a pagan festival, did not share in the emperor’s good intentions. Christmas failed to gain universal recognition among Christians until quite recently.

In England, for instance, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas festivities between 1649 and 1660 through the so-called Blue Laws, believing that Christmas should be a solemn day.

When many Protestants escaped persecution by fleeing to the colonies all over the world, interest in joyous Christmas celebrations was rekindled there. Still, Christmas was not even a legal holiday until the 1800s. And, keep in mind, there was no Father Christmas (Santa Claus) figure at that time.










The early Christians

To avoid persecution during the Roman pagan festival, early Christians decked their homes with Saturnalia holly. As Christian numbers increased and their customs prevailed, the celebrations took on a Christian observance. But the early church actually did not celebrate the birth of Christ in December until Telesphorus, who was the second Bishop of Rome from 125 to 136AD, declared that Church services should be held during this time to celebrate “The Nativity of our Lord and Saviour.” However, since no-one was quite sure in which month Christ was born, Nativity was often held in September, which was during the Jewish Feast of Trumpets (modern-day Rosh Hashanah). In fact, for more than 300 years, people observed the birth of Jesus on various dates.

In the year 274 AD, solstice fell on 25th December. Roman Emperor Aurelian proclaimed the date as “Natalis Solis Invicti,” the festival of the birth of the invincible sun. In 320 AD, Pope Julius I specified the 25th of December as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ.

AD is short for Anno Domini, or “Year of our Lord,” as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church. Some non-Christians prefer the alternative designation “CE” for “Common Era.”


在西元274年,冬至點剛好是12月25號。羅馬皇帝Aurelian宣布這天為” Natalis Solis Invicti”所向無敵太陽神的生日。在西元320年,教皇朱利斯一世明確指出12月25號是耶穌基督正式誕辰日。

AD是 Anno Domini的縮寫,或者(我們上帝之年),由羅馬天主教堂所定。有一些非天主教徒傾向用替代稱號”CE”代表”通用年代。