VARIOUS origins are assigned to the Christmas tree. Dr. Doran claims that its birthplace was in Egypt, and that the ceremony was in force long before the days of Antony and Cleopatra. The tree used was the palm, which, putting forth a shoot each month, symbolized the completion of a year. In Italy a fir-tree was employed, and its pyramidal tips were decorated with burning candles in honor of Saturn, whose festival was observed from the 17th to the 21st of December.

Those who claim a German origin, state that a tree was used in early times in honor of the goddess of spring; but after the introduction of Christianity, its symbolical character was transferred to the Christmas tree. The evergreen fir-tree became an emblem of eternal spring. The lights symbolized Him who is the light of the world, and the gifts were to remind us that God gave his only Son for the world's redemption. 

 HOME, mother, and Heaven are among the dearest words on earth.


CHRISTMAS is the most universal and widely celebrated of holidays. Each nation, American and European, has its own festivals peculiar to itself, yet one and all unite to do honor to the natal day of Christ, to sing his praises, to revere his name.  It is pleasant indeed to think that within the same twenty-four hours in which we are gathered in our homes, enjoying the Christmas cheer, the day is being celebrated by thousands of families nearly over the whole habitable globe.

Then, too, the gifts that Christmas brings! Pointing us back, as they do, more than eighteen hundred years to the time when God gave his Son a Christmas gift to the world, as an evidence of his divine love to all mankind. May the celebration of this day vividly recall to millions of minds the story of Christ's mission to earth.

That Christmas may be truly a happy day, it must not in the least degree be a selfish one. In bestowing our gifts, they should not all be to near and dear friends; but the widow and orphan, the homeless, unemployed, and miserable should be remembered. Well indeed it is that this day should bring something of joy and gladness to the hearts of those to whom happiness is almost a stranger! Well indeed, if Christmas could be made the means to lead some of these to Him whose birthday it commemorates.

Then let us celebrate this Christmas in such a way that it may become more truly Christian than ever before. Let us unite in the praise song that floated over the plains of Bethlehem and have echoed by the mountains of Judea, "Glory to God in the highest." And God grant that the proclamation of "Peace on earth, good-will to men" may extend to all our homes!

V. A. M.

"BEHOLD, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."


"FATHER," said Emma Sherman, "at prayers this morning you said we called this day Christmas because it was the day of the year on which Jesus was born. Is that strictly true? "

"I cannot say that it is," replied Mr. Sherman; "but for more than fifteen hundred years the 25th of December has been accepted as the birthday of Jesus."

"Why, father, that carries us back to within four hundred years of the birth of Christ!"

"Yes; and it seems that a tradition so old as that should have some good foundation."

"Is there any foundation, father?"

"Yes; the old writers, Justin Martyr, Chrysostom, and Tertullian tell us that in the public archives at Rome a registry existed of the census under Augustus Caesar, the Roman emperor, by which the Lord's birthday was established."

"How came it to be generally accepted as our Saviour's birthday?"

"Why, sometime between the years 337 and 352 A. D., Julius, bishop of Rome, appointed it to be so observed; and Chrysostom, who lived in Antioch, in Asia, wrote in the year 388 that it was only within ten years of that time that the churches of the West had made known to the churches of the East that the 25th of December was the day of Christ's nativity. But he says that the Christians at Rome had known it before, through the records of. the taxing preserved at Rome, which are mentioned in the second chapter of Luke. Before that time the churches of the East had celebrated the 6th of January as Christ's birthday. After that time (the end of the fourth century), all the churches, both in the East and in the West, have celebrated the 25th of December as our Saviour's birthday."

"But, father, was it not too cold in December for the flocks and shepherds to be in the fields at night?"

"Not in that climate. Travelers tell us that the weather is very pleasant and agreeable in December in Southern Palestine. 

The earth is fully clothed with rich verdure, and there is generally an interval of dry weather between the middle of December and the middle of February, so that the period about Christmas, though coming in winter and in the rainy season, is generally one of the loveliest periods in the whole year. Tobler, a traveler, says the weather about Christmas is favorable to the feeding of flocks, and is often most beautiful. 

During December the wind begins to blow from the south and south-west, which brings rain and warm weather, and thus hastens forward vegetation."

"So, then, father, as far as we know, Christmas-day is as likely to be the real day of our Saviour's birth as any other?"

"Yes; it has most in its favor. And since it is now so generally observed as such, there is no likelihood nor necessity of any other day ever being substituted for it. God's great Christmas gift to man was the infant Saviour. So we have established the custom of making gifts and performing acts of charity as a token of our good-will."

 Kind Words.