Plants are associated with the festive season of Christmas. The modern Christmas tree originated in Germany. But the Germans got it from the Romans, who got it from the Babylonians and the Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptians used to decorate conifers and made wreaths as well as garland to celebrate Ra, the Sun God.
They believed that winter came annually because Ra was sick. On the 21st or 22nd of December, during the solstice, the population used to celebrate Ra by filling their home with beautiful evergreen trees.
This event was proof that the Sun God was going to get better. Ra was worshipped all around Egypt and was often depicted as a hawk-headed man carrying the solar disk.
Ancient Egyptians believed that the solstice symbolized the triumph of life over death. Evergreens were thus the symbol of rebirth and joy.
Archaeologists were left shocked when they discovered a Christmas trees mural in the tomb of Roy. He was a royal scribe during the riveting reign of Horemheb and insisted on having a special place celebrating Ra and the solstice.
What is this remarkable phenomenon that happens twice a year?
The solstice means “The sun stands still” in Latin. It marks a season change when the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator.
Dr. James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist created a terrific animation that explains how the solstice happens.
The phenomenon has been celebrated throughout history. Romans had a fete called Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the God of agriculture, and used to decorate their homes and temples with evergreen boughs to mark the solstice.
According to Romans, the event marked the beginning of a green and fruitful season.
The Druids who served various roles in the ancient Celtic cultures celebrated the solstice. They decorated their temples with evergreen boughs to celebrate life.
Evergreen plants like the mistletoe are closely tied to Balder, the Viking Sun God.
The plant was used as an arrow to kill him, but fortunately, he was resurrected.
His mother Frigga the Goddess of love was delighted and forbade anyone to use this plant as a weapon. She then encouraged people to kiss under the mistletoe to celebrate love.
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we know it. In the 16th century, Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, wanted to recreate the night sky scene.
During one of his evening walks, he fell in love with the bright stars illuminating the sky and decided to pay tribute to the scintillating scene.
Germans settlers brought this custom to Pennsylvania. However, it was frowned upon by the puritan society.
William Bradford, the second governor of New England viewed the decorated trees as a pagan symbol and wanted to outlaw the tradition.
Despite all his efforts, the influx of Germans and Irish immigrants help promote the Christmas trees.
The Christmas tree has gone a long way from its pharaonic origin. Astonishingly, the tree is still associated with joy and happiness.
Merry Christmas Everyone🎄