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To Christmas tree – or not to Christmas tree

December 24, 2007

I have gone back and forth as to if I wanted to write about the topic of whether it is right for Christians to put up Christmas trees at Christmas.  I have read on various blogs lately where Christians claim the verse Jeremiah 10:1-5 is obviously saying that Christmas trees are associated to pagan and idol worship thus they have no place in a Christian home.  I had heard this years ago and personally know families who believe this, but never really dug into that scripture or into the history of the Christmas tree to base my opinion either way.

I grew up decorating a tree and my family now enjoys this tradition.  We enjoy going through the ornaments from the past and remembering what was happening that year for us to buy that ornament.  One year we were especially broke.  We didn’t know from week to week how to buy groceries or pay bills, but God always provided.  The price of oranges was especially cheap that year & we could buy 10 oranges for only a $1.00.  That was great for us not only were they our favorite treat, but they were loaded in vitamin C, so we rarely got sick that year.  Anyway, we dried some sliced oranges and hung them on our tree as a reminder of God’s provision in our life.  We still have one of the oranges left.  We don’t hang it up though, it looks pretty bad.  The Christmas tree is a special part of our Christmas season.

When I was reading in Jeremiah 10:1-5, I was trying to see if the Christmas tree that we put up every year was dishonoring our God.  If it is then we will do away with it.  But as I continued to read various versions and then some commentaries I decided that for my family, putting up a Christmas tree does not dishonor the Lord any more than putting up a picture of a family member does.  We do not worship the person in the picture, we only remember how special they are to us.  This is what I think the Christmas tree is for many Christians.

 Here is what I see Jeremiah saying in this passage.  He is warning the Hebrews again to be careful & not adopt the ways of the heathens.  My paraphrase is Jeremiah saying, “Their idol worship is ridiculous!  Now, they are cutting down trees, wrapping gold & silver around them & fastening them upright.  These trees are not alive, they have no power, they are trees!  Don’t be as stupid as the heathens.  You are to only worship your Jehovah God who is all powerful.”  That is what I see, Jeremiah warning the Hebrews.  If they began to cut down trees & worship them they would be just as stupid as the heathens.

I know that Christmas began as a pagan celebration, but I’m struggling with how it displeases God when my family stops all that they normally do to come together to worship and praise our God for all of his tremendous blessings in our live.  It may have started out as a pagan celebration, but for Christians, it isn’t pagan.  I do understand that Christians are just as guilty as others are at focusing on the wrong things rather than Christ at Christmas.  But for many families, the Christmas tree has become a very spiritual symbol in their home representing many aspects of the Christmas story and of God.

If we worshipped the tree or let it become the most important part of our season and the focus of it then I can see how it had become an idol and must come down.  But in our house it is just one of the things we do that has special meaning for us.  The tree reminds us of the sacrifice Christ made when he died on a tree.  The lights we put on the tree remind of us the light that God brings into our dark lives.  As important as our Christmas tree is to us, it does not determine whether or not we celebrate Christmas.  We can celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus whether we have a tree, gifts or any other tradition we keep to.  Our focus is on Christ and how he would want us to treat others.  As gifts for others we look for ways to bless other people whether it is by doing something for them or baking goodies for them.  If anything begins to take our focus off of Christ during Christmas then we stop doing it.  If our tree did that, then we would stop putting it up.

We are to always be mindful of our own actions and in constant evaluation of them.  I would say, that if putting up a Christmas tree is an issue that you have struggled with then go before your Heavenly Father and ask him to show you the truth and your actions toward truth.  He will answer…quickly I’m sure!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2007 4:47 am

    Hi Dana,
    I appreciated reading your thoughts on Christmas tress, even though we have different opinions and thoughts. I liked the non condemnatory way in which you wrote. I know that I do things differently now to what I did 20 years ago…and that isn’t to say that I’ve progressed or attained a higher level than what I was at 20 years ago- it just means that I had other things God was working on and He was showing me lessons then, as He does now…they just look a little different now. Many of these issues are just that – issues. Issues that need not divide the body of Christ.

    you wrote:
    “We are to always be mindful of our own actions and in constant evaluation of them.”

    Oh amen! The moment we think we’ve got it all together is the day we’re in trouble.

    I wonder if our backgrounds or upbringing have anything to do with it all? I have no warm and fuzzy memories of Christmas, really. Oh I have a few memories but nothing so important that I feel is necessary for my children to have. Yet many other people feel differently and I wonder if this has anything to do with it? Hmmm…something to think about, for me.

    Anyway, I really liked hearing your thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Susan <

  2. December 25, 2007 10:26 pm

    Hi Dana,

    I’m glad you posted about this. I feel the same way you do, and for the same reasons you listed. Our ornaments are family heirlooms for us. The Christmas tree to us is a symbol of celebrating the birth of Jesus, nothing more. Not one of us worships that tree. I have never felt the least bit convicted about having a Christmas tree, and I’m constantly asking the Lord to tell me if there’s something I believe that’s not the truth, and I depend on Him to tell me if there’s something we’re doing that offends Him.

    We had a strange thing happen with regard to our Christmas tree this year. There’s a guy we’ve been discipling who is trying to figure out how to hear from God, and he gets confused about whether he’s hearing from God, himself, or the enemy. Well, he was visiting us one day, sitting on our couch reading his Bible, then going out on the porch to read for a while, then coming back in. I noticed that he seemed agitated. My husband was home, so he spoke to my husband and asked if he could do something as a prophetic sign – carry our Christmas tree out on the porch. My husband gave his permission, because he knew it was something Dave needed to do. He had a difficult time carrying our tree, fully decorated across the living room and out the front door, without knocking ornaments off and destroying the whole thing. He did knock some of them off, but fortunately nothing broke. After he got it set on the porch, he said he was leaving, and he would come back after he figured out what had just happened. When I watched him tearing up all the work my kids did decorating that tree and possible destroying some of the ornaments I paid precious money for, I felt violated. I was upset at him for a few days. I never did feel convicted about having the tree in the first place. I only felt like we had been attacked. My husband and oldest son went out on the porch after a few minutes and carried it right back in. It sat there the rest of the time and Dave never said another word about it when he came back a few days later, except that he felt better after he did that. Whatever! When he carried that tree out, one of my kids said, “Are we going to have to have Christmas outside?” Then another one said, “Will we have to put the presents outside?” I thought Dave would feel bad about traumatizing my children, but it didn’t seem to bother him.

    Anyway, I feel very strongly that my family is celebrating Christmas in a very Christ-centered way and worshipping and honoring him by remembering him in the ways that we do, and I believe Jesus is pleased. I heard my children in the basement singing “Happy Birthday” last night, and I knew what they were doing. When they came up, they told me they sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Before we opened presents this morning we sang Happy Birthday to him again. I felt His smile on us, and it made my heart happy.

    Love,
    Penney

  3. December 26, 2007 10:41 am

    Greetings my Aussie friend, Susan,
    thanks so much for your gracious comment. I have been to your blog & have read your thoughts on Christmas. I’m sure that our background and past memories do play a big part in how or if at all we celebrate Christmas. It all goes back to how we live & bring glory to our Lord. We should celebrate our Lord everyday as believers. it takes our mind off of ourselves. I guess that is one aspect I really love about the season, people who would not normally sing praise to him are singing songs that are all about Him. Thanks again Susan!

    Penney,
    How great that your husband would allow Dave to do something that made no sense to anyone else but Dave. I would love to hear what his more specific reasons were for taking the tree outside.
    Yesterday morning when my little girl was opening up her present she asked if it was Jesus Birthday today. I told her that we were celebrating Jesus in an extra special way today. So, she finished opening her present telling Jesus Happy Birthday.
    Thanks so much for your comment!
    Dana

  4. December 30, 2007 9:50 pm

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I remembered reading about the blessing your family got last year, and I could relate so well. It seems that every Christmas God makes a way for us to bless our children even though it seems to come at the last minute!

    He’s a good Daddy, isn’t He?

    Love,
    Penney

  5. Helen Krahn permalink
    November 23, 2008 11:43 am

    Hi, I am sick and tired of people attacking this whole Christmas tree ordeal. My sister in law is part of the UPC church/cult and they badger on and on about how it is a pagan tradition and she also throws Jeremiah 10:2-4 at us. What Jeremiah is saying is that the trees mentioned were cut down and carved into idols and then decorated with silver and gold. In other words, Jeremiah is condemning idolatry, not Christmas trees. And another thing people are doing is that they are not realizing that Jeremiah is the Old Testament and that Jesus wasn’t even born yet, so how could they celebrate Christmas when Jesus wasn’t here? Besides, we no longer follow the Old Testament. I just wish people would get their facts straight and not pick and choose pieces of scripture to suit their personal opinions, and that is absolutely wrong.

  6. January 9, 2009 7:48 am

    Hi there, just want to say I really like your blog. My name is Jennifer. I agree with all you have said on this post. Every year we evaluate how we “do Christmas” just like everyday life, and if there is anything that would take our eyes off of Christ, we cut it out. I just “love it” when you tell people that a christmas tree isnt an idol and they say “well, just dont have one for a year and see how your christmas goes”. Well, two years ago we didnt have a tree because we had an 18 month old, and we were going on vacation right after christmas, I just did not see the need for me to have more work to do. Guess what? It was just as nice as any other christmas! I have a brother who does not celebrate christmas and if it bothers him, HE should not celebrate. I am a-okay with that, I do have a problem when other people tell you that you are disobeying God if you celebrate christmas because you are “learning the ways of the heathen” or something. They can share the verses that they’d like to share, just then, let the Holy Spirit lead! Okay, I am off to check out the rest of your blog, have a nice weekend!

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