Do you have any information about the connection of a tree to the holiday of Christmas? I work in a Jewish school where the students are of Russian descent, and for them the tree is traditional. I am looking for information to demonstrate that this custom is really related to Christmas.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The source for the tree used on Christmas comes from an ancient pagan ritual that is described in the book of Jeremiah: "Do not learn from the way of the nations... for one takes wood that he cut down from the forest, fashioned by an artisan with an adze, embellishes it with silver and gold..." (Jeremiah 10:2-4)
Historically, it is known that this ritual was adopted by early Christians, to encourage pagans to leave their cult and join up with the followers of Jesus.
As for the Russian tradition of a Christmas tree, my understanding is that the goal of the communist rulers was to break any traditions related to religion. But since the Christmas tree was too deeply rooted in the Russian Christian tradition, it was impossible to break it. So they transformed it into the "New Year Tree" for the merriest Soviet holiday – New Years. As the only Soviet holiday not related to politics, it was the most popular among the masses – including Jews.