Man and myth

Group 236


A legend begins that Martin Luther, walking on a clear December night, was so dazzled by the bright stars shining above that he returned and added candles to the unadorned evergreen tree that he, like many other Germans, had begun placing in his home. No exact evidence has ever been uncovered to support this story. Yet it has been documented that Germans in the 16th century joined other Europeans in adopting an earlier custom of placing cut fir trees in their homes to provide a little green to help endure the long winter months.

So, why the identifying of Martin Luther as the individual who first began this practice? And why was this done with no proof to back it up? Perhaps it was the deep association Luther had with bringing profound religious upheaval to Western society during the 17th century.

Whatever the truth is, the story clearly enhances the centrality of Luther as a man of fact and myth in the broader Protestant Reformation.

  • Bulletin insert – Week 30: Man and myth (pdf file)
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