Christmas comes and with it comes the illusion of decorating our home to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior. What ornaments can we Christians use? Are we allowed to have a Christmas pine?
Yes! The Bible does not prohibit us from putting the Christmas tree or pine and we are free to choose whether we put one in our house or not. As with all our decisions, we must go in prayer before God and act in obedience to what we feel we should do, but we must be clear that there is no biblical basis forbidding us to decorate the house for Christmas.
What verses seem to ban it?
There are some verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that it is wrong to decorate the house with wooden objects, but in reality they speak of idolatry. For example, Jeremiah 10: 1-5 and Isaiah 44: 14-15 specifically prohibit the use of wood to sculpt idols. They emphasize how absurd and useless it is to make or decorate wooden idols to worship them, something that pagan nations did and that the Jewish people began to imitate.
The Bible prohibits all kinds of idolatry, be it the worship of people or objects of wood or any material. We should only worship God, our Lord and Savior. While Christmas decorations serve to remember and celebrate that Jesus came into the world and not to worship those objects themselves, there is no problem in decorating our house.
Christmas Pine Origin
Throughout history many cultures have used trees and leaves to express their customs and traditions. For example, for many centuries Germans and Scandinavians have placed pine trees and ornaments with natural leaves in their homes as a symbol that spring will return and winter is not eternal.
There are theories about pagan cultures that used trees to represent their gods, for example, the god of fertility. However, it is thought that the history of the Christmas tree originated with Bonifacio, an English missionary who went to evangelize Germany between 680 and 754. It is said that he cut the oak where they made sacrifices to Odin (a Celtic god) and He replaced it with a fir tree, a tree that remains green throughout the year. He adorned it and put it as a symbol of God’s eternal love thus giving it a new meaning.
Others say that the origin is in Martin Luther as he promoted the decoration of trees with fruits that represented the tree of paradise, and with candles or lights representing Jesus, the light of the world. The custom took root in Germany and from there it extended first to the Scandinavian countries and then to the rest of Europe.
What really matters is the reason we place the Christmas tree, the meaning it has for us. It must be a decoration that reflects our joy in celebrating the birth of Jesus. We can also use it to talk to others about him, why he came to earth, and why he died on the cross.
Other Christmas decorations
There are several ornaments that we can use in our homes to communicate the true meaning of Christmas. This era presents us with a great opportunity to share about the love of God and there are a few decorations that can help us talk about the value of the birth of Jesus.
The nativity scene, manger or birth
It is a representation of the story of the birth of Jesus with the use of figurines. It serves as a reminder of the humble birth of Jesus. It can include various scenes: the birth, the visit of the shepherds, the song and the adoration of the angels, the visit of the magicians of the East, etc. In some countries the living representation is made (with people) during Christmas week.
It is tradition to place a star on the highest branch of the tree. It represents the bright star that led the wise men or magicians of the East to the place where the baby Jesus was (Matthew 2: 1-12).
Lights and candles
Lights and candles are used to remember that Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). He came to light our way, to approach us and to reconcile us with God.
The angels represent the angel who announced to Mary and then to Joseph, the conception of Jesus and the importance of his birth (Matthew 1). There were also the angels who announced to the shepherds that Jesus was born and the multitude of angels who praised God and exclaimed “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2).
Advent wreath or wreath
It is used in some Latin American countries and in Spain to announce the coming of Jesus and includes several symbolisms. For example, its circular shape talks about the love of God that never ends, the green branches reflect the new life we have in it and the candles show the triumph of light over darkness.
“The people who walked in darkness saw great light”
(Isaiah 9: 2).
These are some of the decorations we can use. But let’s not forget that the most important thing is not the decoration but that we celebrate Jesus. Let us live lives that celebrate his love and glorify him during Christmas and throughout the year.