Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
Before 200 AD, Irenaeus calculated the date of the Annunciation, based on the date of Yom Kippur of the year Christ was born, which was September 23. His birth was 9 months (270 days) later, June 24. The Annunciation of Christ's conception to Mary was 6 months prior, based on Luke 1:26-27, which is March 25. Nine months later--when Christ would have been born--is December 25. At that time the focus was on celebrating the Annunciation, not the birth of Christ. In 202 AD, Hippolytus, using a different method, came to the same conclusion and stated the date of Christ's birth was December 25. This is found in his commentary on Daniel 4:23. Sextus Julius Africanus, in his "Chronology of the World" written in 221 AD, had the same date of December 25. The Christmas tree goes as far back as 512 AD, a church built in Syria by Emperor Anastasios 1, as recorded in manuscript in the British Museum: "Each tree had one hundred and eighty lamps and fifty silver chains from top to bottom. On these hung small objects of gold, silver or copper, as well as red eggs, vases, animals, birds, crosses, wreaths, bells, carved grape bunches, discs..." Later, during the days where the calendar was filled with religious holidays, there was a festival on December 24, where a play about Adam and Eve was presented, and a similar decorated "Paradise Tree" was used as part of the play. As the celebration of Christmas progressed through the years, the Paradise Tree was kept during Christmas, and became the "Christmas Tree". The Encyclopedia Britannica puts it this way: "The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the eucharistic host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes. Candles, symbolic of Christ as the light of the world, were often added. In the same room was the “Christmas pyramid,” a triangular construction of wood that had shelves to hold Christmas figurines and was decorated with evergreens, candles, and a star. By the 16th century the Christmas pyramid and the paradise tree had merged, becoming the Christmas tree." Other, minor traditions have been added here and there. But the date goes all the way back to just before 200 AD, and has nothing to do with any pagan rituals. The decorated tree goes way back to the 500's. BTW: The shepherds being in the fields is exactly what you find today in that area of the world, when the fall rains have produced grass in the fields away from the towns in early winter. Multiple observers have reported seeing shepherds out in the fields with their flocks in Israel during the Christmas season. Personally, I love the Christmas tree because it makes me think of so many aspects of our salvation: He is the vine and we are the branches. The little lights are like Christians--points of light connected to a common power source. I put the titles of Christ on the shiny ball decorations. It is a special time of year for me to think about and celebrate the Messiah who is my Savior. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.