The Symbolism of Holiday Decor
With all the holiday hustle driving us from one party
to the next, and one store to another, it’s hard not
to take for granted the symbols and traditions passed
down hundreds of years that collectively have become
Christmas. Winter days are the shortest of the whole
year, and it’s almost impossible to find a quiet moment
for reflection. But families who gather together and
consider the symbolism behind all the spangles are sure
to bring more spirit into their season. After all, these
baubles and boughs weren’t meant to be mere frippery
to waste money on. Christmas ornamentation and holiday
decor have significance that can strike awe and wonder
as deeply in our hearts as the angel who appeared to
the shepherds did on that most holy night.
Take the star, for instance, one of the basic
shapes associated with Christmas. When we place it atop
our evergreen trees, we bring into our home a reminder
that heavenly signs of prophecy were fulfilled long,
long ago when a new star appeared in the heavens over
the manger where the newborn Christ-child lay. The star
is the shining hope of mankind.
Like the star, candles symbolize Christ, who
is the light of the world. They mirror starlight, just
as we reflect our thanks for the Star of Bethlehem.
In recent years candles have been replaced by electric
twinkling lights, which carry the same meaning.
Even the sounds we associate with Christmas have meaning,
and the ringing of bells reach out to the lost
sheep, guiding them back to the fold on Christmas Day.
For all are precious in God’s sight.
It is said that 350 years ago a German choir director
gave out candy sticks to the children in his choir to
keep them quiet during the ceremony. To give the candy
more spiritual significance, he bent them to look like
shepherd’s crooks. Over the years candy cane
makers added the red bands—a thick one to represent
Christ’s sacrifice, and two smaller ones to show the
stripes with which he saved all mankind. The white background
symbolized Christ’s sinless nature. Even the flavor—peppermint—has
meaning, for in the Old Testament mint (hyssop) was
used for purification and sacrifice.
Although originally used in winter solstice ceremonies,
and even outlawed in America as a pagan ritual, the
evergreen tree has become one of the most poignant symbols
of Christianity. The needles, pointing up to heaven,
stay green all year long, reminding us that life is
everlasting if we look to Him above.
The very first Christmas trees were used in miracle
and mystery plays performed in Western Germany during
the middle ages. These trees, called “Paradise Trees”
were decorated with red apples, and used to tell the
story of Adam and Eve. Later, the plays ceased to be
performed in Germany, but the symbol was planted in
the minds of the people, who began using trees decorated
with apples in their own homes to teach their children.
The color red is the first color of Christmas,
a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for all. Representing
the fruits of redemption, other ornaments were
soon added as decorations, starting with wafers (cookies)
made from white dough and formed into the shapes of
angels, flowers, bells, hearts, and stars.
Gift-giving is a universal tradition that spreads good
cheer, and even the wrapping has significance. The bows
that we fasten on the tree branches, and top presents
with are tied as we should all be, tied together in
bonds of goodwill forever.
Christmas is a symbolic holiday meant to turn the hearts
of Christians to Jesus Christ by commemorating his birth
and his life. By remembering the symbolism behind the
symbols, the holiday will take on more meaning in our
About the Author:
Fran Black is a creator at for Ornament Shop http://www.ornament-shop.net
and Craft Kits http://www.craft-kits.net
leading portals for crafts and ornaments.