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Culture

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How steadfast are your branches!....or so the famous carol goes. But where does the origin of the Christmas tree come from?

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Just 20 days to Christmas

There are numerous legends on the origin of the Christmas tree. One is the story of Saint Boniface, an English monk who helped set up the Christian Church in France and Germany. One day, on his travels, he came upon a group of pagans gathered around a great oak tree just about to sacrifice a child to the god Thor.

To stop the sacrifice and to save the child's life, Boniface felled the tree with one mighty blow of his fist. In its place a small fir tree grew. Boniface called the tiny fir the Tree of Life, explaining to the pagans that it stood for the eternal life of Christ.

Another legend holds that the German Martin Luther, founder of the Protestant Church, introduced the Christmas tree. It is said he was walking through the forest one Christmas Eve when he came across a plot of evergreen trees glittering in the light of millions of stars. He was so awed by the beautiful sight that he cut a small tree and took it home to his family. As a reminder of that starry night, he placed candles on the tree's branches.

Yet another legend says the tradition of the Christmas tree originated with Germanic tribes who worshipped trees as part of their winter rituals. These involved bringing trees indoors and decorating them to ensure good crops the following year.

By the mid-1800's, the custom of trimming Christmas trees had spread rapidly throughout the world. Today, Christmas trees decorate homes, front gardens and cities all over the world. Even Rio de Janeiro and its sandy beaches join in this Christmas tradition.