The Christmas Tree
Most think that the Christmas tree originated in Germany earlier than the 17th Century.
This tree is possibly a descendant of the Paradise tree, which was used in the Paradise play, which was performed as a reminder of Adam and Eve’s fall from Eden and the promise that humans would one day be restored to God through the Messiah. When the play was banned, people took to setting up Paradise trees (which in the play had apples decorating them) in their homes.
Then again the tree could be a descendant of many traditions involving greenery and trees, some fir trees, most of these occurring around the winter solstice (December-January in the northern hemisphere – don’t be fooled, it is damn hot down here in the south!) and the green trees represented life and sometimes lights were involved too.
My conclusions, on whether one should have a Christmas tree or not, are inconclusive. They don’t seem to be evil: there are lots of things that they symbolise; such as life, the tree of life in the garden of Eden, lights may represent Jesus as the light of the world. On the other hand, we are supposed to be different to the world because it is not our home, heaven is. Wanting the things that the other nations had got Israel into a lot of trouble, fairly often. It’s just that I like the pretty lights…
3 wise men
There was not three wise men, there was an undefined number of men who bore three gifts. These gifts were gold, incense and myrrh – not sure why, the bible doesn’t say. These men were not kings but “Magi”, probably helpers to a king (or kings).
What on earth is the dove for? There is a dove in Genesis when Noah sends out birds to seek for dry land after it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, flooding the earth. It was then that the dove returned with a sprig of fig. At Jesus baptism the Spirit descends on him as a dove through the clouds. The Noah/dove story seems to be the origin of the dove as a symbol of peace. It seems that Picasso had a hand in consolidating the dove as a symbol of peace in the international peace congress in 1949. I’m not sure why we use it at Christmas though.