The legend of the thunder oak is a Thursday tale, which has a deep significance with respect to Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and the tales associated with Christmas represent many customs that have come down from generations unknown. Almost every tradition has a story behind it. The legend of thunder oak tells us of the origin of the Christmas tree. Most of these legends have a central character that does something historic and the deeds by him get converted into practices. These myths and legends make Christmas even more fun and interesting. Narrating tales to children on Christmas Eve is a traditional and still-thriving way of celebrating Christmas. Decorating the Christmas tree is perhaps the most enjoyable part; it is a combined effort of a whole family. There is a reason why the tree is decorated and, of course, the tree being the soul of Christmas has a legend behind it.
Fables Of Christmas
Legend Of The Thunder Oak
Long ago in the forests of Northland, there lived heathens who worshipped the war God, Thor. There was a tree called the thunder-oak, which was Thor's altar, which received nourishment from the blood of humans and beasts. It was so dense and uncanny, that no men or animals came near it. Nor did any bird sit on its branches. The story took place on a Christmas Eve, when it had snowed and the entire tree was white and damp with snow. Thor's priests gathered to perform the winter rites under the tree, which involved human and animal sacrifice. They lit the fire and were preparing for the victims to be sacrificed when Saint Winfred and his devotees appeared and stopped the white-robed priests. For the victims, it was a second life. Saint Winfred pulled out a shining golden axe and hacked the tree at its base. The priests were dumbfounded as they realised what was happening. Thus, fell the mighty tree of Thor. But then something unexpected happened. There was a young fir tree just behind the thunder oak, which was unharmed by the fall of the giant tree. Saint Winfred dropped his axe and turned to address the people. He presented the heathens a tree which was a symbol of God, an evergreen tree pointing towards the heaven. He said:
"This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the tree of peace, for your houses are built of fir. It is the sign of endless life, for its leaves are forever green. See how it points upward to heaven! Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wildwood, but in your own homes. There it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness. So shall the peace of the White Christ reign in your hearts!"
He told them that the fir tree was worthy of becoming the holy tree, unlike the thunder oak which survived on blood. He reminded them of how much they depended on the fir tree to build their houses which was valid reason for it to be worshipped. Its tip points to heaven and thus it was declared as the child of Christ by the saint. The fir symbolized love, kindness and sacrifice. Saint Winfred advised that the tree should be kept inside the homes and be sanctified with love, compassion and by sharing gifts under it. The fir freed the men from the gruesome practice of bloodshed.
The Fir Tree As A Symbol Of Peace
The worship of the fir tree was free of bloodshed, unlike the thunder oak; therefore it spread the message of peace. It was also an evergreen tree and hence, stood for youth and strength. When Saint Winfred introduced the fir tree to the heathens, it was accepted as the holy tree of Christmas.
This is how the fir tree came in to picture as Christmas tree. It has been centuries since the practice began and it still continues to exist. Now, the tree has become the symbol of Christmas. As mentioned already, the fir tree was chosen as it is evergreen and survives even when other trees wither during the winters. It represents eternal life and offers hope for the return of spring. The legend of thunder oak is a Scandinavian tale. The practice of having fir trees during Christmas was prevalent in Germany and also England. Later, the tradition spread to other parts of the world. Most of us have grown up seeing Christmas trees at our houses but are clueless about its birth. It is only through legends like this that we get to know the origin of the beliefs that we follow and nurture.
The legend of the thunder oak is a very interesting Christmas fable. The article below will tell you the story in detail.