O Crucified Tree, O Crucified Tree

Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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16 Responses

  1. Will says:

    Yuletide contingency operations? That is effing brilliant.Report

    • greginak in reply to Will says:

      i’ll second that.

      but what about Santa and the Big Brother like Klaus organization that polices thoughts, covertly eavesdrops w/o warrants and socialistically gives something to every child regardless of how hard they worked.Report

  2. historystudent says:

    Ah. A didactic article on the origins of the Christmas tree. Okay….

    If that’s all it had been I’d have been on board.Report

  3. Kyle says:

    “Yuletide Contingency Operations” is win enough, Chris, but the post is really great/interesting too.Report

  4. sidereal says:

    When will the War on Yule end? It’s time to start boycotting retail establishments that don’t instruct their employees to wish you a happy aðfangadagskvöld.

    jolly holiday season

    The word ‘jolly’ comes from the same Germanic root as ‘Yule’. You see how the serpent is subtle.Report

  5. ThatPirateGuy says:

    Why is there no picture?Report

  6. mike farmer says:

    I think I’ll just listen to bad music, buy presents for friends and family, and skip all the angst. Some issues i find intellectually stimulating — this is not one of them.

    Hippy Hoolidays!Report

  7. Art Deco says:

    The Christmas Tree is in many regards a pre-Christian (or even non-Christian ) image,

    It is a conifer. It does not mean, but be. And next to no one in this day and age would endow it with that image.Report

  8. For three years now, Margaret Downey’s “Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP)” has set up the “Tree of Knowledge” alongside other holiday displays in the “Free Speech Zone” outside the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It is decorated with laminated book covers selected by FSGP, one of which is the Bible, and is a symbol of humanist values. FSGP thinks faith necessarily conflicts with reason, due to a common misinterpretation of the symbology of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil referred to in Genesis. FSGP’s “Tree of Knowledge” is based on a straw man, because the tree in Genesis is not ‘against’ knowledge itself. Check out mywebsite to read more about it.Report

  9. Kaleberg says:

    Should Christmas trees be conifers? They stay green. Deciduous trees lose their leaves, die in the autumn and are reborn in the spring like The Green Man. (At least he doesn’t go estrous around Easter, which is where we get the English name for the holiday.) You’d imagine that Christians would have chosen an oak, but northern Europe had a long history of conifer worship, and Christianity has always been syncretic, adopting local customs, saints and festivals. Christian missionaries clearly decided that converting Germany and Scandinavia was worth appeasing the tree huggers.

    You find stuff all over Europe like this. For example, mistletoe can only be used at York cathedral, but no other English churches, most likely in response to a pre-Christian custom involving mistletoe in worship. Try listening to The Holly and The Ivy and tell me you can’t hear the awkward grafting of Christian imagery to a much older song. That carol is almost Taoist.Report

  10. Art Deco says:

    Christian missionaries clearly decided that converting Germany and Scandinavia was worth appeasing the tree huggers.

    Can you point anyone to a piece of scholarly literature that cites a primary source to that effect? (And if not, what is so clear about it?)Report