The Nittany cub. (Erie, Pa.) 1948-1971, December 19, 1960, Image 1

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    VOLUME No. 4
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Adorning the lucky Gymnosperm in Memorial Room are Cathy Dayton, Gil Freese and Olive Draper.
The Origin Of
The Christmas Tree is the main
feature of modern Christmas cele
brations. It is completely Christian
in origin and historians have never
been able to connect it in any way
with ancient Germanic or Asiatic
mythology. Surprising as it may
seem, the use of Christmas trees is
a fairly recent custom in all coun
tries outside of Germany, and even
in Germany it attained its immense
popularity as recently as the begin
ning of the last century, although
there is some evidence of its use in
certain sections of Germany much
The origin of the Christmas tree
goes back to the medieval German
mystery plays. One of the most
popular “mysteries” was the Para
dise play, representing the creation
of man, the sin of Adam and Eve,
and their expulsion from Paradise.
It usually closed with the consoling
promise of the coming Saviour and
with a reference to His incarna
tion. This made the Paradise Play
a favorite pageant for Advent, and
its closing scenes were used to lead
directly into the story of Beth
These plays were performed
Speak of Merry Christmas
Our Christmas Tree
either in the open, or on the large
squares in front of churches, or in
side the House of God. The garden
of Eden was indicated by a fir tree
hung with apples; it represented
both the “Tree of Life” and the
“Tree of discernment of good and
evil” which stood in the center of
Paradise (Genesis 2,9). When the
pageant was performed in church,
the Paradeisbaum (tree of Para
dise) was usually surrounded by
lighted candles. Inside the ring of
lights the play was enacted.
After the suppression of the
mystery plays’in churches, the Pa
radise tree, the only symbolic ob
ject of the play, found its way into
the homes of the faithful, espe
cially since many plays had inter
preted it as a symbol of the coining
Saviour. Following this symbolism,
in the fifteenth century the custom
developed of decorating the Para
dise tree, already bearing apples,
with small white wafers represent
ing the Holy Eucharist; thus, in
legendary usage, the tree which
had borne the fruit of sin for
Adam and Eve, now bore the sav
ing fruit of the Sacrament, sym-
BEHREND CAMPUS —Pennsylvania State University
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bolized by the wafers. These wa
fers were later replaced by little
pieces of pastry cut in the shape of
stars, angels, hearts, flowers and
bells. And finally, other cookies
were introduced bearing the shape
of men, birds, dogs, roosters, lions
and other animals. Tradition, how
ever, called for the latter being cut
from brown dough while the first
group was made of white dough.
Up to the middle of the seven
teenth century, the Christbaum (as
the tree is called in German) had
no lights. The Christmas candles,
generally used in medieval times,
were placed on the Christmas pyra
mid made of graduated wooden
shelves. As time went on, however,
the tree replaced the pyramid in
its function of representing Christ
as the Light of the World; the
candles and glittering decoration
were transferred from the pyra
mid to the tree; and thus the mod
em Christmas tree was finally
evolved with its familiar features:
lights, candy canes and glass balls.
A star in some form usually deco
rates the top of the tree.
(Continued on Page 3)
And A Happy
New Year
The staff of the Nittany Cub and
the faculty of Behrend Campus
join together in this issue to speak
of Christmas with stories, with hu
morous prose and verse wi*- 1 -
tures and with their s:u--
Christmas, for most of us, is a
time to catch up; to catch up with
sleep, with our education and so
ciality, with our families and
friends and, most of all, with our
feelings for the mystery of a birth.
It happened so long ago that
hardly any of us remember it any
more. And like any birthday, each
succeeding year brings us further
away, from a desire to remember it.
Jesus, too, seems to possess this
attitude. He is like any one grow
ing old in years and wise in human
understanding. All He really wants
is for us to share warmly with
each other because of Him and not
because it is His birthday.
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It is a marvel to realize how
much His birth has affected our
philosophy and morality and it is
interesting to realize how much we
capitalize on this event and yet
how much we cry. Yes, even the
cynics cry; even they have a heart
for something as beautiful and as
intangible as this. But then we
laugh and have a merry Christmas
to cover up this childishness. We
cannot be maudlin about the thing.
We must make merry and make
Sammy was the hero of the neigh
borhood cafe, .
For he was plastered every night
And glad to be that way.
On Christmas -he drank egg-n<?g
And guzzled Gordon’s Gin,
And, since they had-no Yule log,
They carried Sammy in.
for laughter helps to make a
memorable Christmas and one a
little different from the one just
past and those to come, and it
nice to have a birthday tm..
not obligate us to do anything but
be kind to our fellow men and to
Christmas is, therefore, a time to
catch up with our life and our en
vironment and a time to remember
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Monday, December 19, 1960