Many of the early homesteaders in the Peace River Country had Nordic backgrounds and were interested in an article written by H.O. Hommy that explained “The Origin of the Christmas Tree”. According to him the light from original Yule Brand logs meant to guide people safely home to their families during the winter solstice was eventually transformed into the lights on Christmas trees.
Christmas Tree Originated in Switzerland
In his article which was printed in the December 22, 1924 issue of the Grande Prairie Herald, Mr. Hommy stated, “Among the many stories the observer has read, and heard in regard to the origin of the Christmas Tree, there is only one which may have some historical value that which relates to the spruce tree having lights on, and which originated in Switzerland, and from there was introduced into Germany, and from whence we know it was brought to America.
According to Mr. Hommy the Nordic name “Yuletide” was a very ancient term which in his opinion meant, ‘light turns, or Solstice’. According to Mr. Hommy the feast of the Yuletide after the winter solstice, and Bolder’s Beal after the summer solstice were always considered closely connected with the family organization among the Nordic races.
He said, “At Yuletide everybody should be home, and for this purpose an unusually big fire was kindled, and a big log called the Yule Brand was thrown on the fire, so that the light would keep bright well through the night, so that no one, not even a stranger would be going around without finding a home for that night. Several legends tell that even opponent warriors were taken into the family for that night, and protected as guests.”
Yule Logs Were The Original Christmas Lights
From the tradition of the Yule Brand, came the tradition of the Christmas Tree. Mr. Hommy said, “With the invention of different lighting systems, and the tidings of the new born ‘Lord of Peace’ comes the transformation from the Yule Log to the inviting Christmas Tree in the window, which stands out to us in broad daylight.”
Christmas Traditions Linked Homesteaders With Original Homelands
During the 1920s homesteaders in the Peace River Country were mainly young people who’d left their original homelands and extended families far behind. Talking about Christmas traditions gave them a connection with their roots and history and let them share their understanding of the spirit of Christmas with their new neighbors.