Long before Christianity or the birth of Jesus, trees and plants that stayed green during winter months had special meaning for cultures across the world. In many cultures, plants that stayed alive during the bleak seasonal months gave hope of the coming spring. In the northern hemisphere, many ancients believed that the sun was a god that had become ill, and the evergreen trees were a reminder that he would become healthy and strong, and all of the green plants would regrow when the sun god was strong again. Others believed that the evergreens would keep witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illnesses at bay.
Because of this belief, it was common for people in these cultures to hang evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. Ancient Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes to triumph life over death. Early Romans and later, the Druid priests of the Celts decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. Vikings in Scandinavia believed that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.