I hadn't heard the Jeremiah verse before;
10 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."
God himself is talking about a Christmas tree, what else could he possibly mean by this?! So had a quick look at Christian sites to see what they say about using a pagan tree, a tree that god has SPECIFICALLY told Christians not to use; 'Oh no, God didn't mean a Christmas tree you silly thing! He meant a tree that the pagans worship!'
I'm sorry Ron, the Christians are right. Isaiah was written at a time when the king (I forget who he was) was a fundamentalist godbotherer and had sent out Isaiah as his Rush Limbaugh to brief against the goddess AsherahWiki
(she goes by several similar names.) Asherah, as you probably know, was the main alternative deity. The process of worshipping her is described and often (but not always) disapproved in the OT. Her symbol was the tree, often represented as a decorated Asherah pole.
which is a fair representation, although it omits the possibility of Asherah being Yahweh's consort (probably a late development as a way of keeping Asherah worship in the face of an ever more draconian Yahwist king.)
If you want to blame anyone, you should blame Luther: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree#Possible_predecessors
The Bible has many examples of previous religions being hijacked: some of the Psalms (IIRC) were originally hymns to Baal Haddad. I think it shows little more than "A stopped clock is right twice a day."
We should also realise that in language we do not stop using a word simply because it was used in another language before it was used in ours and its history does not affect the meaning we put upon it, even if it is quite different from the original meaning.
The idea behind it all is the symbolism. If their symbolism is your symbolism (everlasting life of the evergreen/the hope for continuing in this life) stealing it and putting a slightly different spin on it is not unusual. (Think of the Hindus and the swastika.)
Anyway, on a callous note, putting candles on dead fir trees in a house must have been the cause of many fires and deaths and have been part of a Darwinian selective process.