The Paradise Tree and our Modern Christmas Trees
In the Middle Ages special mystery plays were held on Christmas Eve, which featured a Paradise Tree, a tree representing both the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as well as the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden.
The tree was decorated with apples (for the forbidden fruit) and sweets/cookies (for the Tree of Life). When the mystery plays were suppressed during the fifteenth century, the faithful moved the Paradise trees from the stage into their homes.
The apples were later substituted for other round objects (such as shiny red balls), and lights and the Star of Bethlehem were added, but the symbolism remained the same.
Thus, our modern Christmas tree is actually the medieval Paradise tree, a reminder of the reason why God deemed it important to become man in the first place and a foretaste of the sweet Tree from which our Lord’s birth would once again enable us to taste.
The lights of the Christmas tree also form a glowing Jesse tree, with each light representing one of Christ’s ancestors and the Star representing our Lord Himself.