.- This morning as he received a group from the northern Italian region of Trentino, which is in Rome to deliver the Christmas tree for St. Peterâs Square this year, the Holy Father insisted that âChristmas is a Christian feastâ.
To emphasize the Christian nature of Christmas, the Pope reflected on the Christian meaning of the traditions that surround the holiday as he spoke to the delegation.
"This ancient fir," said the Pope, "cut down without harming the life of the forest, ... will remain standing by the nativity scene until the end of the Christmas festivities. ... It is an important symbol of Christ's Nativity because with its evergreen leaves it recalls the life that does not die. The fir is also a symbol of the popular religiosity in your valleys, which finds particular expression in processions."
"The tree and the nativity scene are elements of that typical Christmas atmosphere which is part of the spiritual heritage of our communities; an atmosphere suffused with religiosity and family intimacy which we must conserve even in our modern societies where the race to consumerism and the search for material goods sometimes seem to prevail.â
"Christmas is a Christian feast," added Benedict XVI in conclusion, "and its symbols, especially the nativity scene and the tree hung with gifts, are important references to the great mystery of the Incarnation and the Birth of Jesus, which are constantly evoked by the liturgy of Advent and Christmas."