Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
After doing some research, it’s obvious to me that, to this point, no one really knew how this whole Christmas tree thing got started. It’s not like someone picked up a pen and kept notes. But I did some digging, and I can now tell you the real story of Christmas trees.
Back in the pagan days, before the birth of Christ, people would get really crazy on the first day of winter and start jumping around and hooting and snorting and drinking barrels of rotten corn cob juice, which contained, among other contaminants, alcohol. These pre-Christian hooligan would get drunk and smoke rope and jump around. In other words they had a party. Like some people in our modern society, they needed an excuse to drink, act insanely, canoodle and carouse. They picked the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice. (Modern folks use St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve for such foolishness.)
Anyway, after these old pagans sobered up, they realized that all their drinking and carousing didn’t change anything, they still had months and months of cold, snow, ice, and dreary days to go before they could trot down to Walmart and buy vegetable & flower seeds with which to plant a colorful garden.
This realization made them woeful and crazy with hopelessness and doom. Then one winter solstice, a Neanderthal named Ooma came stumbling along and presented the festively dressed pagans with an delightfully scented evergreen branch. Naturally, all the pagans were shocked! A green thing still green on the winter solstice. They almost had Ooma executed as a charlatan, until he offered to show the pagans his evergreen farm some several miles away. Since they did not have bicycles or cars in those days, some several miles was a long way.
To make a short story longer, a pagan named Klonder (he would later discover the Klondike bar) followed Ooma to his ever green farm. And wouldn’t you know it, all the evergreens were green right there on the day of the winter solstice. Klonder blinked his eyes in disbelief. But Ooma was not done! He went into his mud hut and came back out with a jar of fireflies and unloosed them upon the evergreens. They took flight, buzzing insanely in the cold winter air. Looking for refuge, they lit upon the branches of the evergreens just as darkness was descending upon the land. The trees were ablaze with the light of 50,000 fireflies, all of which soon froze to death and fell upon the snow.
Naturally, when Klonder returned to his band of pagans, he regaled them with the tale of Ooma’s evergreens, all green and pretty, ablaze with fireflies, smack dead in the middle of the winter solstice.
Most of the pagans, didn’t believe Klonder, and advised him to give up drinking and smoking rope, but some believed him and regaled their children with Klonder’s saga. Thus the tale of the evergreens ablaze with lights lived on through the centuries…
Then of course, after Christ was born, things changed, the world changed, and all the pagans disappeared (and so did the Neanderthals, but that had nothing to do with the spread of Christianity).
When Martin Luther (1483-1546) heard of it, he reintroduced evergreen boughs as a symbol of Christmas. The truth be told, however, Martin did not invent the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree didn’t come along until a used horse salesman named Darby Brown, looking for a way to increase sales in winter, started hauling in dwarf evergreen trees (bushes, some would say) to sell from his used horse lot in the winter of 1600.
At first people thought Darby was nuts selling dead trees from his used horse lot. But when he stuck candles on the branches and stuck sardine cans shaped like angels on top of the tree, folks went wild. From then on Christmas trees became a Christmas tradition — but not without some setbacks.
The Puritans, didn’t like anything. In fact the word “Puritan” means – “you’re not allowed to have more fun than I am. If I don’t have any fun, you don’t have any fun either…” And, of course, Puritans knew only blood, sweat and tears — and fire and brimstone. So it’s no surprise that they hated Christmas trees. The Puritans outlawed many Christmas traditions because people who celebrated were having more fun than they were! And this is why the Christmas tree was slower to catch on in England and parts of North America which were rife with Puritans in funny hats.. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that many American homes had Christmas trees.
So, the next time you start thinking something good about the Puritans, you just stop yourself. If they had their way, you’d be sitting at your tree stump, eating a bowl of gruel, wincing in pain from your frostbitten extremities.
At least Martin Luther tried to make Christmas trees part of our Christmas tradition. But, the next time you turn on your Christmas tree, don’t thank Martin Luther, thank Darby Brown … that wonderful used horse salesman who, in 1600, opened the first Christmas tree lot…and sold the first Christmas tree.
If you’re a Puritan, I didn’t mean to offend you. Come on over on Christmas day and I’ll make a turkey dinner. And I promise, I won’t have one bit more fun than you’ll have.
And now everyone knows the real story of the Christmas tree.
I wonder if Darby is any relation to Charlie?