Posts Tagged ‘xmas in siena’
Soon it will be Christmas and we are all accustomed to the image of the tree decorated with shimmering lights and many gifts at its feet. However, who really knows the origin of this tradition? At Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie we want to learn more about it.
We know that the image of the tree as a sacred symbol of life is a pagan theme known to all cultures in the ancient world, in the Middle Ages and only later assimilated by Christianity.
Christmas coincides with the period of the winter solstice and many civilizations of the ancient world considered this a prodigious event as in Egypt and Syria, where the victory of light over darkness was celebrated (in fact during the solstice the days get longer and announce the return of spring and therefore of life). In some traditions of northern Europe it was usual to burn a tree (a pine or fir tree) and the sparks represented the light of the days to come. Even the druids, ancient priests of the Celts, began to worship the trees during the winter solstice, and especially the fir, an evergreen tree, became a symbol of perpetual life. During the Middle Ages, on December 24th in Germany there was a game of Adam and Eve, a religious game where large fruit trees (symbol of abundance) were hoisted in the squares and asked to recreate the image of Paradise, just later the trees fruit were replaced with fir trees and it was also in Germany that instead of the fruit the first decorations in blown glass appeared. For a long time the tree tradition was typical of the north European areas. In 1816, this tradition began in Vienna at the behest of Princess Henrietta von Nassau-Weilburg, while in France it was thanks to the Duchess of Orleans in 1840. In Italy, the practice is widespread thanks to Queen Margaret in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Nowadays, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II a new tradition has been started, the tradition of setting up a large Christmas tree in the heart of Catholicism that is St. Peter’s Square in Rome. A Catholic interpretation is the one who wants the decoration of the tree as the celebration in remembrance of the wood of the Cross that saved the world … the lights symbolize the light that Jesus brings into the world and the gifts are the representation of Jesus ‘generosity.
This is what history tells us…. then the legends are quite different:
- The first legend positions the tree in the Garden of Eden as the tree of life, and when Eve plucked the forbidden fruit the tree leaves withered and became pine needles until the birth of Jesus.
- A second one tells about Adam who, running away from Paradise, brought with him a small branch which later became the fir tree that was used for the Holy Cross.
- And even a story of a child who was lost in the forest and not knowing how to get home, took refuge at the foot of a fir tree that lowered its branches to protect it. In the morning, he realized that the snow and ice, fallen on the branches during the nights, had created many decorations shining to the sun.
- Another legend is connected to the miracle of S. Boniface, who came across some heathens, worshiping an oak tree; they were preparing the sacrifice of a little prince. St. Boniface felled the oak and in its place an evergreen fir, symbol of eternal life, appeared by miracle.
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