The Christmas Tree
The use of evergreen trees to symbolize eternal life in Christian tradition dates back as far as the ancient Hebrew culture and stands as a reminder to this day. With bark that protects from fire damage, insulated needles that obtain water, and a color that lasts through the toughest of winters, the evergreen is a spectacle of nature. During the middle ages, missionaries that were preaching to the German and Slavic people believed that the Incarnation proclaimed Christ's lordship over natural symbols such as the evergreen that had previously been used for the worship of pagan gods, and that symbols such as these could be converted and redeemed for the glory of God. During the Renaissance, evergreen trees served as a symbol of the "tree of paradise", being decorated traditionally with apples which represented the forbidden fruit, and wafers representing the Eucharist and redemption. These trees were eventually placed in households and the apples and wafers were replaced by other ornaments and decorations. The custom became popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, but was met with disapproval by some clergy members. One of which being Lutheran minister Johann von Dannhauer, who contended that the symbol distracted people from the true evergreen tree, Jesus Christ. Eventually candles were added to the trees to represent families or individuals, the predecessor to our modern day lights and ornaments.