Christmas, What is it? Let’s Get it Right!
‘Only by thus reaching out for a new understanding of the Christ can we fill the festival of Christmas with a certain meaning. Has the Christmas festival any meaning for most human beings nowadays? It is a very beautiful custom, scarcely 150 years old, to have the Christmas Tree as a symbol of the Christmas festival. The custom of having a Christmas Tree came into being only in the 19th century. What is this Christmas Tree really? It is not so easy to find its meaning. In making the effort to find it, and by discovering how the Christmas Tree gradually came into use, how it grew from being the little branch, carried on St. Nicholas’ arm on the 6th of December, into being our Christmas Tree, we come to realize that this Christmas Tree is also directly connected with the Tree of Paradise.
Human consciousness thus looks back here to the Tree of Paradise, to Adam and Eve. What does this signify? This is one aspect of the way we make the Mystery of Golgotha known to-day. We turn back from the Mystery of Golgotha to the creation of the world, to the beginning of the world. We fail to grasp the meaning of the world’s redemption, and instead turn back to the God who created the universe. This is expressed in the gradual disappearance of the real Christmas symbol, of the manger — so sublime a part of the Christmas plays of earlier centuries — and in the appearance of the Christmas Tree which is really the Tree of Paradise …
… We should inscribe this into our hearts to-day when we think of the Christmas festival. To-day, in thinking of the Christmas Mystery, we have need to look for a birth. We should not merely busy ourselves with idle talk about the Christmas festival and our own feelings, but should look for what must be born anew in this our age. For truly, real Christianity must be born anew. We need a cosmic Christmas festival for humanity. ‘