With the lighting of Stettler’s Christmas tree, it got me to wondering about the origins of the Christmas tree. With the wonders of the library’s databases, I was able to find the information in the Canadian Encyclopedia’s database.
Like a lot of traditions that can trace their origins back in time, the Christmas tree can be traced back to pagan origins. Many pagan cultures would cut down evergreen trees in December and move them into their homes or temples to celebrate the winter solstice. The evergreen trees seemed to have magical powers that enabled the people to withstand the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold.
The first Christian use of the tree can be traced back to legends about a woodcutter who helps a small hungry child. The next morning the child appears to the woodcutter and his wife as the Christchild. The child breaks a branch from a fir tree and tells them that it will bear fruit at Christmas time. As foretold, the tree is laden with apples of gold and nuts of silver. By the 1700’s the Christbaum or “Christ tree” was a firmly established tradition in Germany.
It was believed that Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer, was the first to add lighted candles to a tree. Awed by the brilliance of the stars twinkling amidst the evergreen, he recreated the scene for his family by erecting a tree in the family’s main room and wiring its branches with lighted candles.
The Christmas tree made its first appearance in North American on Christmas Eve 1781 in Sorel, Quebec. The Baroness Riedesel hosted a party of British and German officers. She served traditional English pudding but the highlight of the night was a fir tree in the corner of the dining room decorated with fruit and lit candles. The Baroness was determined to mark their return to Canada with a traditional German celebration. Her husband, Baron Frederick-Adolphus Riedesel was a commander of a group of German soldiers sent by the Duke of Brunswick to help defend Canada. He and his family were taken prisoner during the disastrous British offensive in northern New York in 1777. They were not released until 1780, when they returned to Quebec.
Speaking of Christmas trees, have you come in and seen our Giving Tree? This tree allows for a convenient drop-off point for unwrapped gifts for the Stettler Christmas Hamper Society. Gifts for all ages are gratefully accepted. However, gifts for ages 10 to 18 have been the most difficult to collect in the past, so please keep that in mind.
Our day of craft-making fun is upon us. Join us this Saturday, Dec. 5, for Craftapalooza from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It is fun for crafters for all ages. We will be making rolled candles, decorated light switch plates, holiday cards and envelopes, painted gift bags, paper chains, gift tags and much more.
The Stettler Public Library’s holiday hours are set. The library will be closing at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24 and will reopen on Monday, Dec. 28 for our regular hours. On Thursday, Dec. 31, the library will also be closing at 3 p.m. and will reopen for regular hours on Saturday, Jan. 2.