What Does the Christmas Tree Symbolize?

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The Christmas tree symbolizes the spirit of the Christmas season and, to Christians, the everlasting life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, the cross upon which Jesus was crucified is often referred to as a tree. The lights and decorations on the tree represent the wonder and glory associated with the birth and resurrection of Jesus.

Such common choices for tree toppers as stars and angels represent Jesus’s birth, as they were both present at the time, according to the Bible story. The presents that are placed below the tree are believed to continue the tradition of giving gifts, as God gave humanity Jesus as a gift, the Three Wise Men gave Jesus gifts at his birth and then Jesus gave humanity the gift of trading his life for the eradication of sin on the cross, or tree.

The first historical mention of a Christmas tree was in Germany in 1521, though the tree was not lit. The first historical use of a Christmas tree inside a house as an indoor decoration came from Strasbourg in 1605. Use of Christmas trees as holiday decorations spread through Germany to the remainder of Europe, and then to America from immigrants and European soldiers.