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In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas

Eaton Centre

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas……”

Indeed, the shopping malls and streets of Toronto are dressed in the “holiday” style. Christmas trees, wreaths, candles, etc..

And yes! It is not easy to take a photo with Santa Claus because of the lineup. Yet it is even harder to find baby Jesus or the Nativity. However, will we realize the true meaning behind these decorations is actually Christ Himself?

Christmas – Christ’s Mass.

Christmas Tree – Evergreen, ever alive, reminds us of the eternal life.

Christmas Star – The Star of David, the Star of Bethlehem.

Wreath – Evergreen, a ring with no beginning and no end.

Advent Candle – The light breaking through darkness, the Light of Christ.

Candy Cane – The shape of a shepherd’s crook, reminding us that Jesus is our Shepherd.

Santa Claus – Originated from Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who taught us the meaning of giving.

In the air there’s truly a feeling of Christmas, of the Baby of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Rodney Leung

Producer, Chinese Programming

O Christmas Tree


Vatican Christmas Tree

Although it stands tall next to the obelisk in the middle of St. Peter’s Square every year, the Vatican’s Christmas tree is relatively new addition to the Holy See’s yuletide traditions.

St. John Paul II introduced the Christmas Tree to St. Peter’s square in the early 80s.

Why was the piazza bereft of a tree until then?

It could be due to the fact that the Christmas tree is not, strictly speaking, a religious symbol of feast of the birth of Christ.

The practice of decorating the home with boughs of evergreen and setting up a decorated tree, seem to be liked to pagan traditions prevalent in Roman times. It was common practice to decorate one’s home with greenery at New Year’s to scare away the devil.

Other sources point to the medieval nativity plays. At some point in time the date we now know as Christmas was the date of a feast dedicated to Adam and Eve (or very close to it). Medieval nativity plays kept that connection alive, and as a result often featured live trees decorated with fruits.

Eventually the practice was banned. However, it seems people in Germany took to setting up fruit-decorated trees, known as “Paradise Trees” in their homes and keeping them up throughout the Christmas season.

The practice of setting up a tree in one’s house was largely confined to Germany. It wasn’t until 1848 that the practice was introduced to the rest of the world, thanks to Queen Victoria.

The beloved queen encouraged Prince Albert to set up a decorated tree in the palace just as he did as a child in Germany. A picture of the royal Christmas tree was published in newspapers and magazines around the wor ld and the practice suddenly became fashionable.

By the time St. John Paul II became pope, Christmas trees were widely accepted as a Christmas symbol alongside the nativity scene, so it seemed natural to have a tree placed in St. Peter’s square next to the manger scene. Since St. John Paul II had the first tree placed in the piazza different places around Italy and northern Europe have considered it an honour to donate the tree that will adorn St. Peter’s Square.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Perspectives Daily – Monday, Dec. 19

Tonight on Perspectives: The Pope visits prisoners and finds common ground. Plus, two North American women are on the verge of Sainthood.

Last rites for the Pope’s Christmas tree

In my hometown of Deep River, Ontario, my family was usually among the last to put up the Christmas tree. Likewise, we waited weeks before pitching our dessicated fir to the curb.

It was not due to the liturgical calendar that we observed the custom later than our neighbhours. We just weren’t in much of a hurry. And because I loved to light up the tree after school, I would persuade my parents to keep the now-sparsely-needled tree well past its best-before date.

So naturally, I appreciate the Vatican’s tradition of displaying its majestic tree in St. Peter’s Square until February 2nd, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. That was the schedule this year, until circumstances forced a change of plans. The Rome bureau of Catholic News Service provides the following report:

Christmas Eve Mass live on Salt + Light this Friday

There’s a 93-year old, 100-foot-tall Norway Spruce in St. Peter’s Square these days.

It’s the Vatican’s Christmas tree for this year.

The spruce, along with 50 other trees, have been donated by the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone.

Speaking to a delegation from the diocese, the Pope says the tree is a significant symbol of the light of Christ.

The Holy Father says the Nativity scene, also in the Square, and the tree offer an invitation to unity and peace and “an invitation to make room, in our life and in society, for God, who offers us his omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child, because he wants us to respond freely to his love with our own love.”

And we invite you to join the Holy Father for Christmas Eve Mass, live this Friday, December 24th at 4:00pm ET, or catch the encore at 11:00pm ET or 8:00pm PT.

Visit the Papal events page for more Papal programming between Christmas and New Year’s.  You can see Advent and Christmas reflections from  Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, and Bishop William McGrattan, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto, here as well.

CNS Photo/Paul Haring