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Monday, November 28, 2011

Beyond Santa ~ why we celebrate...

Like many children growing up, year after year I watched a Christmas tree go up and be decorated. Once I had my home, I too put up a Christmas tree, without much thought. 

Do you Know why we put a Christmas tree up?

The symbolic meaning of Christmas trees originates in pagan culture where evergreen represents life, rebirth, and stamina needed to endure the winter months.
The belief was that evil spirits were at their strongest during the cold months of December and January.  To ward off the naughty spirits, evergreens were brought into the home as symbols of protection. The evergreens were alight with candles, the idea here was to “light up” the darkest, coldest conditions and thereby keep away evil spirits.                   It wasn’t until around the 19th century that we find Christianity absorbing the bright, cheerful symbolism of the Christmas tree.  Christians had long held the fir as a symbol of the Tree of Life.  Early Christians knew their symbolism well, as they added candles and apples to their Christmas firs.  These candles represented the light of Christ.  The apples symbolized knowledge which spawned man’s original sin according to Christian belief.  Within the immortal symbol of the Christmas tree and the light of Christ absolves the “fall of man”.

The wreath has significant meaning for all the season. It's circular shape represents eternity,as it has no beginning and no end ~ representing unending circle of life. The evergreen, symbolizes growth and everlasting life.  
The ancient Druids are the first society in known history to have worn sprigs of holly and mistletoe. These priests of yesteryear believed that holly, with its glossy, shiny prickly leaves of green adorned with red berries, remained green all year due to their magical properties. The Druids considered Holly sacred. Many speculate the holly berries have given us our green and red colors of Christmas.

Holly branches have thorns ~ when used in a wreath holly represents the thorns on Jesus' crown when he was crucified. The bright red holly berries symbolize Jesus' blood that was shed for us.

Red at Christmas reminds us of the fire of the SpiritGreen represents nature, and the ongoing life. Spirit unites with nature, in the Incarnation.
As you prepare for the Christmas celebrations ask little ones if they know why we use these symbols in our celebration. It will be a great time to teach them Santa is not why we celebrate. 

  .        The Star: A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago- The shining hope of mankind.
·         The Color Red: The first color of Christmas, symbolizing the Savior's sacrifice for all.
·         The Fir Tree: Evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.
·         The Bell: Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.
·         The Candle: A mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.
·         The Gift Bow: Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.
·         The Candy Cane: Represents the shape of the shepherd's crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.
·         The Wreath: A symbol of the never ending eternal value of love… having no end.

Do you know the answers to these questions...

Why we exchange gifts? Why turkey? When is the proper time to light the Christmas lights?

If you know the answers please share. If you have other questions why we do something to celebrate Christmas please ASK, I'll do my best to find an answer. Over the next few weeks I will be posting what I have discovered about these questions.


  1. Hi Celia,
    This is a wonderful post filled with a wealth of information for those who do not know about these traditions. I will be doing similar posts leading up to Christmas on my Christmas blog. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely rest of the week.


  2. Hello Celia,

    I really enjoyed your post. It was very insightful and interesting. Funny, how we use these things (well most of them) and I bet the majority of us never really knew the history that surrounded them.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


  3. Dearest Celia,

    Compliments for addressing this most important Christian day: Christmas!
    Santa Claus derived from the Dutch that colonized America before the British came. Its meaning is Sint Nikolaas (in Dutch) or Saint Nicholas in English. But the date for Saint Nicholas is December 5 for adults and children received their gifts in the morning of December 6 after waking up.
    Turkey not necessarily was associated with Christmas in my birth country. Here in the US it is associated with Thanksgiving. In all of Europe there are two days of Christmas celebration, 1st and 2nd Christmas day. Which makes sense for this most important day in the Christian calendar. So to you question why we exchange gifts I can answer that in our culture we never did so. I have no idea when the proper time for lighting the Christmas lights is. Guess it should be after the Advent...
    Love to you,

    Mariette's Back to Basics

  4. this was really interesting to read. I knew none of it. But I grew up Jewish and never had a tree or wreath etc. Giving gifts....for me it represents His gift...that of the One who gave His life so we can walk free. Hope you have an awesome day.....

  5. No, Celia, thankfully Christmas is most definitely NOT about Santa. It's sad, isn't it, how ignorant our society is about our own history. I'm glad you shared this post. Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings as you give and receive during the holy season ahead.

  6. If you ask some of my neighbours they will tell you the proper time to put on Christmas lights is the moment their kids are home from Trick or Treating!

  7. Good morning dearest heart....

    It is wonderful to see you come by and visit. There are so many traditions that have buried the original plan as to why we celebrate the way we do; and Christ probably was not even born at this time of year. But yes, we must remember the whole reason why we exchange gifts and make merry: TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF THE ONE that gives us eternal love and the creativity to share our hearts...one day, we will know all the answers!!! BLESSINGS TO YOU DEAREST, Anita

  8. So great. And so true, constantly trying to teach my kids about the REAL meaning of Christmas.
    I'm thinking we exchange gifts because the 3 wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus...you got me at turkey!
    The italians (perhaps other cultures as well) believe the Christmas lights stay ON until the ephiphany (Jan 6th)...not sure when they "should" go on. Mine are on now!:o

  9. I loved reading this today Celia, as I am preparing to get my tree up!!! Have a delightful weekend,


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