According to a Scandinavian folk tale, in the forests of the ancient Northland, there lived heathens who worshipped the war-god Thor. Human and animal sacrifices were offered to a giant tree known as the Thunder Oak that was considered the altar to Thor. The oak was believed to have grown up on human and animal blood. Mistletoes used to hang from its thick dark branches and it was so gloomy that not even beasts or birds dared to wander to the tree or live near it. One Christmas Eve, the forests were covered with deep snow. Thor's priests were preparing for the winter rites beneath the Thunder Oak and the mystic feast of the mighty Thor.
Sacrificial flames were lit and the human victims were waiting for their
death at the hands of the white-robed priests, when Saint Winfred and
his people made their appearance like a Christmas miracle and new life
for them. Before anyone could realize what was happening, the saint drew
out his shining axe and cut the oak tree from its very foundations. The
heathens were too awed and shocked to even resist. The mighty oak fell
backwards but what was more surprising was that a young fir just behind
the tree remained unharmed. Saint Winfred then introduced the heathens
to a new way of life.
He directed them to accept the fir as their holy tree. He preached them
that fir is the tree of peace and it deserves to be worshipped for their
houses were built of fir and thus, it gave them shelter. Fir also
represented endless life and hope as it is an evergreen tree. It's spire
points to heaven and thus, it was to be called the tree of the Christ
Child. They were asked to keep the tree in their homes and make it holy
not by bloodshed but by love, kindness and sharing gifts under it. Since
then, the heathens accepted fir as the symbol of good will and peace and
welcomed it in their homes every holy Christmastide.