History indicates that it was only in the year 354 A.D. that the Roman Bishop Liberius designated December twenty-fifth as the birthday of Christ. On this day was observed the Roman feast of Saturn, when
A LEAP OF THREE AT THE DAVOS SKI-JUMPS
eandles were riot only used for illumination purposes, but they were also exchanged as gifts in token of cheerfulness and good will. The Jews, too, were accustomed to burn candles at that time, which happened to be their Feast of Dedication, and it is thus not improbable that thousands of candles were burning throughout Palestine when Christ was born. Our present-day custom of burning candles on the Christmas trees is therefore of very ancient origin, and members of the Greek church actually call Christmas “The Feast of Lights.”
There is a pretty legend which relates that the history of the Christmas tree dates back to the ninth century, when a certain Saint Winfried went to preach Christianity to the people in Scandinavia and Northern Germany. One Christmas eve these people were gathered round a huge oak to offer a human sacrifice, according to the Druid rites; but St. Winfried hewed down the great tree, and, as it fell, there appeared in its place a tall young fir. When St. Winfried saw it, he said to the people:
“Here is a new tree, unstained by blood. See how it points to the sky! Call it the tree of the Christ-child. Take it up now, and carry it to the castle of your chief. Henceforth you shall not go into the shadows of the forest to hold your feasts with secret and wicked rites. You shall hold them within the walls of your own home, with ceremonies that speak the message of peace and good will to all. A day is coming when there shall not be a home in the north wherein, on the birthday of Christ, the whole family will not gather around the fir-tree in memory of this day and to the glory of God.”
Since the passing of those days, the custom of the Christmas tree has found its way into the remotest corners of the earth. Its significance and purpose have been crystallized in Christian minds and hearts, and yet there remains here and there the observance of certain quaint customs at Christmas-tide.
ON THE VILLAGE RUN AT ST. MORITZ
It is Christmas eve, and after the last candle has flickered out on the tree, some of the simple peasant folk in the sequestered
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