Wreaths that are displayed at Christmas time are in the form of a circle made up of the Evergreen tree cuttings, signifying eternity. Mostly made of evergreen tree twigs, sometimes with pinecones, flowers, leaves, fruits, and a bow made of red ribbon is a common Christmas decoration. Christmas wreaths are placed in homes on the front doors or the balcony. This is a sign that you welcome the advent season into your house.
They also serve to wish people happiness in the New Year. Christmas Wreaths are decorated with candles symbolizing the sun at winter solstice, and with holly, evergreens,red berries, and pinecones, symbolizing the harvest, which might have come down since the time of ancient Rome.
There are four candles placed upon the Christmas wreaths. Presently many churches light the candles during the services held in preparation for advent in succession during the four weeks before Christmas. Three of the candles are violet in color traditionally and the fourth has the color of a rose. In some churches blue candles are used on Christmas wreaths while some use white candles. Some of the Christmas wreaths also have a fifth candle in addition to the four candles. This is lit on the Christmas Eve or on the Christmas Day symbolizing the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Christmas wreath is a symbol of god’s eternal love for us. The violet candle symbolizes faith and the rose colored candle the joy of the advent season. The first candle placed on the Christmas wreath is known as the Prophets candle signifying the hope of the arrival of Jesus’ arrival. The second candle is the Bethlehem candle, reminding people that God was born in a humble manner in a manger.
The third candle to be lit on the Xmas wreath is the Shepherds candle and the last is the angel’s candle. This is the symbol of the peace and joy that the advent season offers us. The Christmas wreaths are also used in the protestant churches and in all the parts of the world.
You can select from a wide range of Christmas wreaths according to the other home decorations. The Christmas wreathe can also be decorated by the use of ribbons and bells. The wreaths can be given a personal touch by adding some natural cones and berries to the wreath. The Christmas wreathe can easily be detached as you take down the decorations of your house and keep it for the next advent season.
Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy
Mistletoe comes from the Celtic tradition. Two hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of winter. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter. The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace. Scandinavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of
love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year. The early church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins. Instead, church fathers suggested the use of holly as an appropriate substitute for Christmas greenery.
In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.
Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed.
Ivy is a plant that needs to climb and cling to another plant or wall as it grows, so it is said to represent the support that we receive from God and how we can cling to him for shelter in times of need.
Ivy also used to be a popular plant to be used in wedding bouquets, as it was said to represent fidelity and also brought good luck and fertility. Ivy was said to be a fertility symbol because it was a plant that could grow rapidly and reproduce in even the most adverse of conditions. In modern times, ivy is popular as a Christmas plant because it stands for joy and good luck.
Ivy is a plant that was closely associated with the Roman god of wine, Bacchus. He wore a crown of ivy on his head to symbolize his immortality. It had been a symbol of eternal life in many pagan religions, including Druidism. The Christians who converted these Pagans embraced it as a symbol for the new promise of eternal life and Jesus’ everlasting one.
That ivy is ‘female’ is also implied by the custom of the Holly Boy and Ivy Girl. Victorians saw it as an emblem of the ever-faithful, but dependent, love of wife for the husband to whom she clings as the ivy to the oak.
Poinsettia was a Mexican flower named after Joel R. Poinsett. Usually for Christmas deep vibrant red poinsettia is chosen. However, there is a wide range of other colors, including pink, white marbled, speckled and yellow.
The legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It tells of a girl named Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up in the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but were always saddened because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished that they could give something to the church for the Baby Jesus. But they had nothing.
One Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church to attend the service. On their way they picked some weeds growing along the roadside and decided to take them as their gift to the Baby Jesus in the manger scene. Of course other children teased them when they arrived with their gift, but they said nothing for they knew they had given what they could. Maria and Pablo began placing the green plants around the manger and
miraculously, the green top leaves turned into bright red petals, and soon the manger was surrounded by beautiful star-like flowers and so we see them today.
Christmas rose is a European evergreen plant with white or purplish rose like winter-blooming flowers. It can be found on table clothes, napkins, wrapping paper and Christmas cards.
The Legend of the Christmas rose speaks of a young girl named Madelon who wanted to come and worship the Christ Child. Seeing the gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by others who were drawn to the humble birthplace, she despaired that she had no gift to bring, for Madelon was poor indeed.
In vain she searched the countryside for a flower that she might bring, but the winter had been cold and harsh and there were no flowers to be found. Saddened, the girl began to weep. An angel passing over her stopped to provide comfort and smote the ground that was wet from her tears. There did spring a beautiful bush that bloomed of white roses.
"Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold," said the angel, "is offering more good for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses." And thus young Madelon went her way and worshipped the Prince of Peace, bearing the gift of her heart and tears.
The Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star, is a star in Christian tradition that revealed the birth of Jesus to the magi, or "wise men", and later led them to Bethlehem. Many Christians see the star as a miraculous sign to mark the birth of the Christ (or messiah).
Yule Log is a significant part of Christmas traditions. Yule log is a large log burned in the hearth of the house. Yule log symbolizes the victory of light over the darkness of winter and a symbol of prosperity and luck. The tradition of lighting the Yule log is still observed, especially by Europeans. Families light the log on Christmas Eve and keep it burning until Epiphany. It is believed, if the tradition is followed with sincerity and devotion, it would bring good health, wealth and productivity in the year ahead.
The tradition is practiced in many countries and hence several legends are associated with its origin. The most popular story of the Yule Log dates back to the 12th century. During this period in most of the European countries, the winter festival was celebrated by burning wood and drinking wine. The Solstice festival was Jol (Yule) which was celebrated throughout Northern Europe and Scandinavia. It was a feast to honor the
Norse God, Odin who was the God of Intoxicating Drink. The custom of Yule Log emerged from the Europe's winter festival.
Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany.
In 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers.
More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ's purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity.
Christmas stockings are hung near the chimney on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to fill it with goodies for the children. It is an empty sock or a bag that is given the shape of a sock. The children in United States and some other countries have been following this tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking, believing that Father Christmas will fill it with sweets and gifts for them. The items that are believed to be stuffed in the Christmas
stocking by Santa Claus are known as stocking stuffers.
The tradition of the Christmas stockings began by a story told since ancient time about a kind noble man who had three daughters. The wife of the nobleman expired and the daughters and their father were left in a state of sorrow. The daughters had to do all the work in the house. When the daughters became young and eligible for
marriage, the poor father could not afford to give the huge dowries to their husbands.
One evening the daughters, after washing their stockings hung them near the fire place to be dried. Santa Claus being moved by the plight of the daughters came in and put in three bags of gold one in each of the stocking hanging by the chimney. The next morning the family noticed the gold bags and the nobleman had enough for his daughter’s marriage. The daughters got married and they lived happily ever after. Since then children have been hanging Christmas stockings.
Christmas stockings are supposed to have the gifts given by Santa Claus. The other gifts are wrapped in present papers and placed near the Christmas tree. It is believed that a child who misbehaves during the year will not get a gift in their Christmas stocking. The Christmas stockings are traditionally hung on the fireplace. But as most of the modern homes do not have a fireplace, any location is suitable for hanging the Christmas stockings. In many traditions the Christmas stocking is to be stuffed by a gift that will stimulate the five sensory organs.
The gift given by Santa Claus would be something to eat, a thing that makes a sound and gives a pleasant view to the eyes or gift which has a lovely fragrance.
In the present modern culture there are special Christmas stockings available in the market. Some families design unique stockings for each family member.