Excerpts taken from the Thoughts of Faith December newsletter article titled “White Angel Over a Red Star, by Nadiya Khodzinska.
I am 29 years young. I am a Ukrainian, I speak Ukrainian, I grew up in a Ukrainian Christian family, but I was born in the USSR and still feel the remnants of that so-called “brotherhood of nations”.
In the 20th century people started decorating Christmas trees with apples, cookies, candies, and walnuts. In 1918 the Soviets prohibited having Christmas trees as “it was closely related to the Christian religion”. In 1929 Christmas became a regular work day. In 1939 the Soviet government realized that “the Christmas traditions” cannot be easily destroyed, and they decided to substitute religious things with secular things. New Year trees instead of Christmas trees, for example. Father Frost was supposed to completely replace the better known and honorable St. Nicholas, as well as the “western” Santa Claus.
In the Soviet Union branches of the tree were decorated with clocks, pine cones, spacemen, soldiers, fairy tale figures, and heroes of the proletariat. The top of the New Year tree was traditionally decorated with a star, although it was not a star to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. It was the red star of communism and its atheistic ideology. Every house, every main square of the city, every educational and other governmental institution had a New Year tree with a soviet star on the top.
I did not know the meaning of the tradition to decorate the top of the Christmas tree with an angel until coming to work at Thoughts of Faith. Then I realized that this is not an American tradition, but that it is a Christian tradition. “An angle of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior had been born to you; He is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:9-11).
We as Christians should know what we celebrate and why we celebrate it. Do we put up a Christmas tree because everyone else does, or because it adds joy to the house where carols are sung, family prayers are prayed, and Jesus is glorified?
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Please keep our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in your prayers this year.