Today is the Feast Day of Adam and Eve (Plus, the Origin of Christmas Trees)

Christmas Eve is also the the feast day of Saint Eve…and Saint Adam, too.

“Virgin Mary Consoles Eve”
Crayon and pencil by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO
Copyright 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey

Yes, Adan and Eve are saints in the Catholic Church, and they are traditionally honored on December 24th, Christmas Eve. They are the exemplars of humble penance for their original crime against God.

Previously, medieval Christians enjoyed performances on Christmas Eve called “Paradise Plays” that recounted how Adam and Eve lost their innocence by eating the fruit of the tree. Some have speculated that the placement of a tree decorated with red apples for this dramatic paradise play is the true origin of the Christmas Tree decorated with red apples or red ornaments. Soon, the people copied the practice and placed “paradise trees” in their homes.

The paradise play recounts how when Adam and Eve sinned, God promised them a Redeemer born of a Woman who would crush the serpent’s head:

“I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15).

This drama anticipated the reversal of the Fall with the miraculous birth of the Christ Child from the stainless womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

The symbolism of this drama is that Adam is the chief peccator and that Eve is the co-peccatrix who brought all of mankind into the bondage of original sin. Christmas introduces Jesus Christ as the New Adam Redemptor and Mary as the New Eve Coredemptrix as those who liberate mankind from sin into grace and glory.

Mary is the foretold “Woman” of Genesis 3:15 who bears the Redeeming “Seed” who is Jesus Christ. The long expectation of Adam and Eve for the birth of the promised Child has finally arrived.

So happy feast day of Adam and Eve!

Merry Christmas!

ad Jesum per Mariam,

Taylor Marshall

PS: I’ve been told that the Eastern Church commemorate Adam and Eve on the Sunday before Christmas. Can anyone verify this for us?

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  • Marie Dean

    I remember this being celebrated as a child. The prayers of the Mass included the refrain from Holy Week-oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam. This stuck in my soul all these years. I am sorry for the liturgical changes which destroyed this symmetry and connection between Christmas Eve and Holy Week. It was fitting. I was just talking about this yesterday with a convert.

  • http://paul-leone.com/ Paul Leone

    I’ve been wondering for a long time if anybody knows what readings were associated with the feast of Adam and Eve? Here’s hoping, and a blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

  • Grannie Appleseed

    Thank you for this information! Never knew about Paradise Trees but I am sharing what you wrote with my family this evening. A very blessed and joyful ChristMass to all who read this. Pax et bonum.

  • Julian

    Dr. Taylor

    When was the “he will crush the head” and the “his heel” in Genesis 3:15 changed to she will crush the head and her heel?

    • Edward

      As I understand it, the Greek Bible was a bit vague as to the antecedent, and the Douay Rheims English Bible used the “she.” More modern scholarship, using the Hebrew, translates it as “he.” Nonetheless, this is why many statues of Mary have a snake below her foot.

    • http://jamesfinn.me/ James Finn

      The Vulgate of Jerome is quite explicit. Jerome has it as the feminine “ipsa”. The DRB stays loyal to this, while modern “scholarship” does not. I pray for the day when all Catholics will shudder in horror at the mere utterance of the word “modern”.