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Lisa Prejean: Savor Christmas memories

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child

December 18, 2009|By LISA PREJEAN

Lights seem to dance across a sea of evergreen as ornaments twinkle among fragrant branches. Melodies of peace and goodwill mingle with aromas of citrus and cinnamon.

If there ever was a season designed to delight the senses, Christmas certainly delivers. Our traditions seem to warm us -- heart, mind and soul -- at this time of year.

As we fellowship with family and friends, our thoughts drift to years gone by filled with memories that remain. Pondering the past leads us to wonder. How did these traditions that we hold so dear begin?

This question has been on my mind recently as my high school students at Heritage Academy worked on a "Symbols of Christmas" project.

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Their work has been part of a school-wide program directed by the student council. The high school students research a topic, write a script and present a five-minute program based on the information they find. On the last day before Christmas break, the elementary students walk from classroom to classroom in the high school, stopping to see each class presentation. The "Christmas walk-through" program provides a creative learning opportunity and has become a wonderful holiday tradition.

My ninth-graders chose to focus on the Christmas tree, which has countless legends explaining its origins. The students decided to focus on just a few.

Most of the sources they consulted seemed to indicate that the use of Christmas trees originated in Germany. One legend involved Saint Boniface and his encounter with pagans who were planning to sacrifice a child under an oak tree. Boniface interrupted the ritual by chopping down the tree. The legend says a fir tree grew in its place. Boniface thought the branches of the fir tree pointed to heaven, and he declared it a holy tree because he thought the evergreen branches were symbolic of everlasting life.

Another legend based in Germany involved Martin Luther, who thought the snow-covered branches of the evergreen were quite beautiful. To have that beauty inside, he brought in a small fir tree and decorated it with candles.

Queen Victoria, whose ancestry was mostly German, reportedly brought the Christmas tree tradition to England. Victoria and her German-born husband, Prince Albert, decorated evergreen trees at Windsor Castle for their children. A London periodical illustrated the scene, and English citizens adopted the tradition. It soon spread to America, where it is now hard to imagine Christmas without evergreens.

As you and yours gather around the Christmas tree this season, savor the moments as you create a new year of memories.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at lisap@herald-mail.com

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