Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Goldfish

This is a not a postcard, but a regular Christmas card of a very large couple and their miniature children, separated by a Christmas tree.

I had always thought that the Christmas tree had pagan origins, but according to Wikipedia, Christian lore attributes the tree's origin to Saint Boniface and the German town of Geismar: "Sometime in St Boniface's lifetime (c. 672-754) he cut down the tree of Thor in order to disprove the legitimacy of the Norse gods to the local German tribe. St. Boniface saw a fir tree growing in the roots of the old oak. Taking this as a sign of the Christian faith, he said '...let Christ be at the center of your households...' using the fir tree as a symbol of Christianity."

Well, O.K., but then there's Santa Claus (aka Saint Nicholas), and he does appear to be based  on the Germanic pre-Christian God, Odin. And what about those elves? I'm just trying to figure out how this all fits together.


  1. That's quite the 'All-American Family' image, great card!

  2. You got me with the Forest of Geismar reference. I was thrilled to learn that as I read the World Book Encyclopedia as a child...Monica's (German) father taught her it was Martin Luther's idea but we know better ;-).

  3. St. Boniface, like all of those then who opposed "paganism" used what they could to steer the unbelievers (mostly Germanic origin) peoples to monotheism. I see Wikipedia's note as supporting this, as trees were sacred to the Teutonic people. Nice card, though the "biggers" should lay off the plum pudding from your other post. ;0

  4. Lord of the Green Dragons,
    Good points! I do wonder if the Teutonic people had a tradition of decorating trees before St. Boniface. I suspect they did. And, now that you mention it, it looks like one member of that family ate the entire plum pudding.

  5. Seventh C. Christianity was often a mix of Christian and local pagan customs. St B. may have chopped down a tree, but the Geismarians could also have adapted it to accommodate their practices.

  6. @Christine H.: A good (but expensive) 4 volume set of books on "Teutonic Mythology" (Jacob Grimm) makes note of "pagan" practices. The Frisians decorated their trees as did others of that stock (side note: the movie, "The Warlord," with Charleton Heston, actually has a scene wherein he notes a decorated tree from the Frankish (pre-Christian) religious/"anti-Christian" practice). The World tree was associated with life and thus a tree was often the centerpiece in glades where most worship took place.

    No plum pudding for me... :)



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