The First Christmas Tree Legend
This is a continuation of the series on a children's Christmas musical idea that introduces several Christmas legends to students and audiences of all ages.
Like many other legends, there are several versions of the :Legend of the Christmas Tree. Some stories tell of how the custom of decorating Christmas trees began in Germany or ancient Rome and then spread all over the world. However, there is one Christian-based legend that I have read to my students in the past when teaching them about traditional Christmas carols and customs and I thought it would be very appropriate for our Christmas legends musical extravaganza.
The Legend/Story Itself
The legend of the first Christmas tree came to mind for this musical, because it shows my students that power lies within each of us and it is what we do with that power that makes us great. I also like the fact that it shows that even the most plain and simplest things in life can be beautiful. I truly believe that this legend is the reason for the phrase, "Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder".
Here is an excerpt from the legend of the first Christmas tree:
..."The night of the Saviour's birth, all the living creatures, both flora and fauna, came to Bethlehem with gifts. The olive tree brought its fruit and the palm its dates. But the little fir tree had no gift and was so tired it couldn't resist when the big trees pushed it into the background and hid it from view..."
(This legend can be found in its entirety at ReoCities, among other places.)
For this portion of the musical, I chose one excellent 5th grade reader to recite the legend, which I had rewritten for him in bold print on index cards.
I chose the 5th and 6th grade classes to perform here for they were smaller in numbers, which was perfect; I knew the costumes were going to take up a bit more space on stage. I chose O Christmas Tree and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree for the two songs they were going to perform.
The costumes for the Christmas tree portion of the musical were probably the most elaborate of the entire show. I made Christmas tree costumes out of real heavy cardboard. I traced a tree pattern on each one using an overhead projector and then I cut out a hole where the head should be. I got the pattern out of a Christmas patterns Pre-K book that a teacher let me borrow. I then cut each tree out with the help of the art teacher and then I had the students paint them during their Music class time. We went down to the gym, and they each painted and decorated their own trees. They were beautiful and the best part was that it barely cost a dime. I picked up the cardboard from an art store where the owner gave me a discount because it was for a school production. They really turned out great! Just remember, when in doubt, use your resources.
The choreography for this section was difficult, because it's really hard to coordinate dancing Christmas trees. I had to stagger them a bit so they wouldn't run into each other, but mostly I used hand motions and they shook their hips which made their trees sparkle. (Glitter works wonders in show business.)
While singing O Christmas Tree, they stood in place, swayed in unison and spun very slowly around. It was a very lovely but serious number. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree involved more turning, big jazz hands and dancing with a partner. It was upbeat and very cute. My students and the audience both has a blast!
Overall, this Legend of the Christmas Tree is a great story to use in a musical-type setting. You will have your audience on their feet and "rockin" in no time.