Christmas is arguably the most celebrated holiday in the world. People from all walks of life honor the birth of Jesus Christ in their own way – often using Christmas traditions and symbols. Without a doubt, you’re familiar with some or all of the Christmas symbols used as they’re everywhere during the holidays.
But do you know the significance of these ubiquitous symbols?
Christmas Symbols and Their Meanings
Christmas Tree or The Fir Tree
The Christmas tree primarily symbolizes everlasting life. It also suggests hope and optimism. There’s an old story depicting baby Jesus as being born in the dead of winter. When the surrounding trees shook off the snow covering them, they revealed new shoots of bright evergreens.
In other parts of the world, the needles of the fir tree that point upwards are said to represent the connection of men with God.
Denoted as the Star of Bethlehem, the Christmas star is what revealed the birth of baby Jesus to Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar. It’s also their guiding light to Bethlehem. A star is also a sign of a fulfilled prophecy, one that represents the shining hope of humankind.
In different parts of the world during the holidays, Christmas candles are lit as mirrors of the starlight. They are gestures of appreciation for the Star of Bethlehem. They also bring warmth and light during the cold season.
One of the most traditional Christmas symbols, the Christmas wreath represents the eternal love of Jesus to humankind. Its circular shape suggests rebirth. The actual wreath symbolizes generosity and the gathering of families.
The sound of the holiday bells isthe announcement of the arrival of baby Jesus. Their sweet tinkling music is believed to guide the lost sheep back to the fold. This signifies that all people are precious and loved fiercely by the Lord. Today, the bells mark the start of the holidays.
The two main colors of Christmas are red and green. Red symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus when He died on the cross. It also represents His sacrifice to save humankind. Green, on the other hand, symbolizes the eternal light and life of Christ.
The legendary figure that is St. Nicholas in real life has been one of the universal symbols of Christmas. He was a godly man revered for his charitable and generous heart. His act of giving gifts to children on Christmas Eve embodies the goodness of benevolent and anonymous giving to others.
A poinsettia is a dark red-colored plant with star-shaped leaves. It’s commonly associated with Christmas because of its hues and shape – the latter representing the star of Bethlehem. There are also many Christmas stories related to poinsettias.
One of the most popular is from Mexico. Legend has it that some poor children wished to give baby Jesus a present. But because they didn’t have money, they elected to just gather up some weeds as a gift to Him. Out of those weeds bloomed the miraculous red poinsettias.
The holly is a representation of the crown of thorns Jesus wore during his crucifixion. The sharp leaves symbolize the thorns, while the red berries imply the drops of blood He shed for His people. Also, the shape of the leaves that resemble flames is believed to represent the burning love of the Lord for humankind.
More than kissing, the mistletoe represents love. Mistletoes don’t have roots. To survive, they live off from the tree they’re attached to. A mistletoe stands for love, one that is derived from God.
The shape of a candy cane is reminiscent of a shepherd’s crook. It is a reminder of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who uses His crook to bring lost lambs back into His arms. The white stripe symbolizes purity. The red line represents Jesus’s sacrifice.
Legend has it that one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus saw a poor family and wanted to bring them joy and help, even just for the holidays. As he worked incognito, he decided to use the chimney to drop a few gold coins for the family. The coins then fell into the stockings that were hanging on the fireplace to dry.
Christmas Gifts or Gift-Giving
The first gifts given during Christmas were from the three wise men. They gave baby Jesus symbolic gifts (gold, incense, and myrrh) to give Him honor. This gives precedence to the custom of exchanging gifts during the holidays.
Whether it’s in the arms of His mother, Mary, or placed in a humble manger, images of Jesus as an infant is the ultimate symbol of Christmas. He is, after all, the main focus of the holiday and the reason why we celebrate such a momentous event.
Now that you know the significance of most Christmas symbols, it’s time to feel the holiday spirit with these insightful Christmas quotes.