Is it okay to have a Christmas tree? Are Christmas trees pagan?
Some have argued Christians should not have a Christmas tree because the practice is associated with pagan worship. Should Christians have Christmas trees?
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First, it is clear that Christians today who use a Christmas tree do not use it in any form of pagan worship. Instead it is part of Christmas tradition, one piece in the larger celebration of the birth of Jesus. Simply having a Christmas tree is not wrong since no pagan worship is taking place.
There is evidence of trees, or at least evergreen boughs, being associated with pagan worship. However, the tradition of Christmas trees began with Protestant Christians in Germany in the 16th century. The star on the tree was used to remember the star followed by the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12). In some cases, trees were topped by an angel to remember the angels who appeared to the shepherds on the night of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:8-14).
Some have wrongly used certain biblical passages to teach the use of Christmas trees is sinful. For example, Jeremiah 10:1-16 forbids cutting down and decorating trees, like people often do at Christmas. Isaiah 44 notes the futility of cutting down a tree and forming part of it into an idol for worship. Both of these examples have nothing to do with Christmas trees. Both occurred before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and were directed at the nation of Israel in regard to worship of idols. They are prohibitions against idolatry, not against having Christmas trees.
There is no biblical command regarding the use of Christmas trees, or Christmas at all. As mentioned, the modern practice of Christmas trees associated with the celebration of Christ's birth began only 500 years ago. It is perfectly acceptable for a Christian to either celebrate or not celebrate Christmas and to include or not include a Christmas tree. Of course, this practice is also cultural, since evergreen trees are not available for use in celebration in some cultures.
First Corinthians 10:31 offers some encouraging words that can be applied regarding the use of a Christmas tree: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
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