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Christmas Symbols

Apart from traditions, customs and rituals, there are some of the interesting and enjoyable information on the different icons and symbols that are associated with Christmas. But a number of traditions, now associated so closely with Christmas, actually have their roots in pre-Christian, pagan religious traditions. Given here the symbols of Christmas and their ancient roots.
Bells
Bells remind us of that joyous moment when Jesus Christ was born. Church bells were rung to announce any news or summon people to Church during Prayer time. Even today, Church bells are rung during prayer times and at the eve of Christmas, announcing the commencement of the celebration. Bells happen to be the high priest's garb according to the Jews. Bells remind us that high priest is none but Christ himself.
Wreaths
Wreaths are symbol of hope. Although the world knew about wreaths, it was not until people of Northern Europe started associating it with winter season, that wreaths came to become a Christmas symbol. Northern European's pagan people believed the sun to be like a "wheel" that would roll away from them and then turn to return to them. A country that experienced long winters, wreaths were a symbol of hope. They were made out of wheels and were decorated with lights and greenery. Hence, even after the North Europeans got converted to Christianity, wreaths continued to decorate their homes in the winter seasons. Also, the lights of wreaths symbolize Christ who said "I am the light of the world". The association of wreaths with Christmas happened naturally, but it is still unclear how it came to be associated with the Advent.
Lights and Candles
Lights and candles are an integral part of Christmas celebrations. They dispel darkness, welcoming goodness into homes. The advent of Jesus to the world brought new hope. The lights and candles represents this hope of a better tomorrow. Jesus himself is the "light" the world was waiting for. On this day, people decorate their homes with lights and candles, joining the celebration of Christ's birth.
Angels
Angels are the messengers of God. The Bible introduces Angels to us. It was Angel Gabriel who told Mary that she will bear a child and should call him Jesus. It were the angels who were seen singing in the heavens by Shepherds. They told the shepherds about Jesus's birth and where to find him. In the present day, a Christmas tree is incomplete without an angel at the top of the tree.
Christmas Tree
The evergreen Christmas tree symbolizes optimism, happiness and life. In the long winters, these evergreen fir trees brings hopes that spring will be here soon. People believed these trees were magical since they were green and strong even in the toughest winters. Christmas trees came to symbolize "life". The concept of having a Christmas tree indoors was first advocated by Germans in the 16th Century.
Nativities
The Nativity scene is the most loved scene, recounting the humble story of the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph in a manger. Often, "three wise men" are a part of the Nativity scene who were guided by the Bethlehem Star. Animals are also part of the Nativity scene since Jesus was born in a manger where there were supposedly various household animals.
Holly
Holly was believed to be magical because it remained shiny and green even during the winters. The red berries with the Holly are symbolic. While the Green sharp-toothed leaf refers to immortality, the red berries refer to the blood Jesus shed for his people, even for those who rejected him. The Holly reminds the Christians of the 'Crown of Thorns' the soldiers mocked Lord Jesus during his passion as the King of The Universe, unaware that he is the King of the universe.
Mistletoe
Mistletoe symbolizes love which we get from and which exists only because God is there. Mistletoe does not have any roots of its own. it grows on another tree to which it attaches itself. Without that tree it will not be able to live. It is believed that "Kissing" under the Mistletoe signifies reconciliation and acceptance, alluding to the merging of earth and heaven, and also to God's own reconciliation with man.
Poinsettia
Old Mexican legend says that once a poor girl called Pepita was very sad as she had no gift to offer to baby Jesus during the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked sadly to the Chapel, her cousin brother Pedro tried to cheer her up saying Jesus will love even the tiniest of the thing give with love. Pepita, not knowing what to give, picked up a handful of weeds from the road and made a small bouquet out of it. Embarrassed that she could give only this to Jesus, she went to the Chapel. As she remembered her cousin's words, she felt better. She placed the bouquet below the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet turned into bright red bright flowers miraculously. The shape of poinsettia represents the Star of Bethlehem- the red symbolizing Christ's blood, and White his purity.
Stockings
The tradition comes from a Christmas story of St Nicholas. In the 1800's, when the father of three young maidens could not afford a dowry for his daughters to be married. From his castle, St Nicholas heard of the poor misfortune of the maidens and secretly threw a bag of coins down their chimney. It is said that the gold coins landed in the girls stockings that were hanging in the fireplace to dry. The tradition of hanging up the stocking is still followed. They are left out on Christmas Eve, along with mince pies, sherry and carrots for Santa and his reindeer, and even today most children are in bed way before midnight waiting for Santa to visit.
Candy Canes
The candy canes are shaped like the crook of a Shepherd. It reminds us of the Good Shepherd, Lord Jesus, who came to the world during Christmas. the red strips points to the sacrifices and the white to the purity of Christ. It also reminds.
Santa Claus
The real Santa Claus was Saint Nicholas a fourth century Bishop in Turkey. Famous for acts of kindness, especially towards children, he eventually became popular in Holland, where he was known as "Sinter Klaas". Around 1870, the Americans turned the name into Santa Claus. In nineteenth century Britain the Elizabethan character Father Christmas - the jolly old man imagined to provide the Christmas feast - merged with Santa.
Gifts
Gifts during Christmas find their roots to the gifts brought by the three wise men- The Magi from the Orient. It also symbolizes the gift of life that God has so graciously showered on us. During Christmas, people exchange gifts as a way to express and share their happiness on this auspicious day.


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