Now, a VOA SPECIAL ENGLISH program for the Christmas holiday. Some Christmas traditions involve trees or plants. One of the most popular is the evergreen tree. Shirley Griffith tells us how the evergreen developed into the modern Christmas Tree.
Many Americans buy an evergreen tree for Christmas. They put the tree in their home and hang small lights and colorful objects on it. The evergreen is usually a pine or a fir tree. It remains green during the cold, dark months of winter in the northern part of the world. So, it is a sign of everlasting life.
The use of evergreens during winter holiday celebrations started in ancient times. Early Romans, for example, probably included evergreens with other plants during a celebration in honor of their god of agriculture.
The Christmas tree may have developed in part from a popular play performed hundreds of years ago in what is now Germany. Traditionally, the play was held on December twenty-fourth, the day before Christmas. The play was about the first people that God created -- Adam and Eve. People put apples on an evergreen to represent the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.
By the year Sixteen-Hundred, some Germans began bringing evergreen trees into their homes. They put fruit, nuts and sweets on the trees. They shared the food among family members and friends after the holiday season.
Some people say the German religious reformer Martin Luther was the first person to add lighted candles to a tree. They say he did this to show how wonderful the stars had appeared to him as he traveled one night.
In the early Eighteen-Hundreds, German settlers in the state of Pennsylvania were the first to celebrate the holiday with Christmas trees in the United States.
The Christmas tree tradition spread to many parts of the world. Today, some form of Christmas tree is part of most Christmas celebrations. Some people put a star on top of their Christmas tree. It represents the star that led the three wise men to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
This is Shirley Griffith wishing you a joyous holiday season.