A Tradition-ful Advent:
Ornaments on the Christmas Tree
A Little History:
In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. This was probably from the Paradise trees used in the plays where they acted out stories like Adam and Eve on Christmas Eve. (See the post from two days ago about The Christmas Tree) Apples were strung on the trees to “costume” them into being the Tree of Knowledge or Good and Evil. Through the years, the decorations became more and more elaborate. In the 1600s glass makers began making special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. In 1605 an unknown German wrote: “At Christmas they set up fir trees in the parlours of Strasbourg and hang thereon roses cut out of many-coloured paper, apples, wafers, gold foil, sweets, etc.” Mothers also hid gingerbread cookies, nuts dipped in sugar, fruits and vegetables formed out of marzipan and other candy from the boughs, soon giving it the name the “sugar tree”. Among the sweet treats and other decorations were hidden the most important ornaments, tiny round wafers of bread. These thin biscuits represented the body of Christ that was broken on the cross for our sins.
At Christmas, we can look at the ornaments we hang on the Christmas tree and see the blessings in our lives. Memories, loved ones, events and milestones… each ornament has a story to tell, and each can help us remember God’s hand on our lives and his blessings. We remember that everything that we have is due to God loving us so much that He wants to shower us with His blessings. And just as ornaments are all different shapes and sizes, blessings are all different as well. God picks and chooses each blessing for each one of us so that it will be just right. Some blessings are physical, like our home, food, and prosperity, given so that we can bless others in his name. But the best blessings are spiritual, beginning with God’s own son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah – fulfillment of all God’s promises and unending faithfulness. He blesses us with his presence, growth and maturity, answered prayer, knowledge and wisdom, peace, hope, joy… As you look at the ornaments on the tree, take a moment to remember God’s hand in our lives and thank him for his faithfulness shown to us in each blessing represented on the tree.
Verse(s) to Remember:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3
Ideas to Make it Stick:
- Decorate the tree with ornaments (or the room trees talked about in the post The Christmas Tree)
- Hide wafers, fruit, or sweets in your own Christmas tree and have the kids seek and find them.
- Make dough ornaments with a simple recipe from online
- Cut different shaped ornaments out of construction paper and list blessings on them to hang on your tree, or make an “ornament blessings” garland to hang in the house.
Please feel free to share with friends and leave comments… Do you have other connections between the tradition and the heart of the holiday? Creative ideas to make it stick? I’d love to know what you and your family do with this!