To Tree or Not To Tree, That is the Question

Every year, the week after Thanksgiving, I start the same routine. Although there’s no need, it’s marked it on my calendar.

This year was different. You know, life happens. Destruction, mayhem, chaos. Call it whatever you wish, the result was the same; I didn’t put up the Christmas tree.

A week crept by and still no glorious, festive, glowing fake tree in the corner. No angel forever frozen in mid “Gloria” peering down on our bright faces.  I decided it might not be worth the trouble this year.

Until the next morning.

I awoke to find my son had moved all the furniture in our living room. It takes rearranging to create my joyful holiday concept each year. His attempt to persuade almost moved me.

A few days later, I awoke again. (Yay!) On this day, I rose to find our tree, and all needed Christmas adornment had appeared upstairs, placed in front of the fireplace. They sat waiting for me to get to work. It was a mystery! (Not really)

He was determined.

It got me thinking, “Just who started this Christmas tree thing, anyway?” So, I researched and learned a few things:

  1. The origin of the Christmas tree began in Germany in the 16th century. Christians from Northern Germany performed mystery plays that featured an evergreen tree called a “paradise tree” decorated with apples. They plucked one apple, depicting Adam and Eve.
  2. Puritans celebrated Christmas with mass, but having decorations could be punishable by death. (That’s a game changer!)
  3. Many American colonists saw the Christmas tree as a pagan symbol.
  4. If you B-R-O-A-D-E-N your thinking, you could say a Christmas tree helped George Washington and the Continental Army defeat the German Hessians (who fought for the British) in 1776. Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River into Trenton, NJ on December 24-25. While the Hessians celebrated Christmas with eating and drinking, singing and decorating trees, they made themselves an easy target for Washington’s surprise attack.
  5. It wouldn’t be until the 1830s that Americans first displayed Christmas trees in the United States although German settlers had displayed Christmas trees since the 1700s.
  6. Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, gets credit for being the first to put candles on Christmas trees.

Having a Christmas tree is more modern than earlier pagan use of evergreen. Don’t confuse the use of Christmas trees with the pagan use of evergreens for decorations, or the Egyptians and Romans use in Winter Solstice celebrations. 

Christmas trees have come a long way from their origin in mystery plays to the prominence they enjoy today. Still, I don’t know… to tree, or not to tree?

So did I, or didn’t I?

I’m a mom…of course I did!







Advertisements

The Mystery Heard ‘Round The World

It’s a mystery that history has never solved. Who fired the shot heard ’round the world, the shot credited with igniting the Revolutionary War.

History records the war began on April 19, 1775. A small group of seventy-seven American militia came face to face with a column of seven hundred British Regulars on the town green in Lexington, MA. They had marched into Lexington to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. (Unbeknownst to the British, Adams and Hancock had left Lexington)

The American militia group was under the command of Colonel John Parker, the British commanded by Major of Marines John Pitcairn. Either Major Pitcairn or another British officer approached the militia and yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye scoundrels, ye rebels!” (Well, something of that sort)

GrandUnionFlag

Colonel Parker ordered his men to disperse. He had no desire for violence being that Adams and Hancock had left Lexington. As the militia broke ranks, someone fired.

Who fired that shot?

Following the battle, Colonel Parker, under oath, maintained he ordered his men not to shoot, but to disperse. As they followed his order, the British fired. Major Pitcairn, likewise under oath, stated he ordered his men to hold ranks, but not to fire. Once the shot fired, the American militia fired on the British.

Other American witnesses reported the British showed a lack of discipline that barred the British officers from restraining their troops. Pitcairn’s testimony gave credence to that allegation.

On that day, the British escorted a prisoner taken while they marched from Boston. Asahel Porter took the opportunity and attempted an escape, so it was possible British directed the shot at him. Asahel Porter was a causality on that day.

Other British reports stated the shot came from beyond the Lexington Green. Perhaps a shooter was hiding in a building or behind a stone wall. The British light infantry troops followed the shots with a bayonet charge, prepared to enter buildings before leaders could restore order.

So, did the British fire? Did the militia fire? Was a shot fired from the grassy knoll—oops, I mean—from beyond the town green? Did the British fire at an escaping prisoner?

Was this another magic bullet moment fired from nowhere by no one?

When the smoke cleared, eight American militia lay dead and nine wounded, with only one British injured.

Minuteman

Many say it’s best there’s no record of who fired that shot. Rumblings of war had begun long before that spring morning in 1775.

History will never solve the mystery of who fired “the shot heard ’round the world”. But it started the revolution that won America its independence.

“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in that happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations, shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peaceful and happy Country.”
—George Washington to New York Legislature, June 26, 1775

For a technical clarification, the shot fired in Lexington occurred in one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. However, the phrase “Shot Heard Round the World” comes from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled, Concord Hymn. This poem references the Battle of Concord, which took place later in the day of April 19, 1775, where American Minutemen defeated the British on the North Bridge. Huzzah!

Overtime, historians attributed the phrase to the shot fired in Lexington.