The History of Christmas Symbols
photo by kristine imperio
Many holidays are filled with symbolism dating back hundreds of years, and the winter season filled with Christmas symbols is no exception. From Easter to Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day to Halloween, the mere mention of these holidays brings all sorts of traditional symbols to mind.
photo by j.lee43
Many hundreds of years ago, bell ringing ceremonies were held to frighten away evil spirits that supposedly lurked during the fall and winter months. As years passed and traditions and beliefs changed, bells were used in celebration as opposed to fear. The celebration of Christmas and the birth of Jesus were announced by the ringing of church bells. Bells were also used by carollers as they roamed the streets sharing Christmas spirit and song.
photo by Anne With An “E”
We sometimes take things for granted and don’t question the origins of many of our traditions. The majority of us have received a Christmas card at some point. Millions of Christmas cards are sent out every year. But where did it all start? In 1843 a British aristocrat by the name of Sir Henry Cole hired an artist to paint the cover of a card to send to family, rather than sending a Christmas letter. They didn’t become popular right away but by the 1900s, they were extremely popular.
photo by Chris Campbell
There are many references to Angels as they relate to Christmas. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would have a child who would be the saviour. Angels are also said to have guided Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Following the birth of Jesus an angel appeared to shepherds to announce the birth. This angle become known as the Christmas Angel.
photo by feministjulie
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and of course Rudolph – we’ve heard all the names, but why is that? Be it based on Norse mythology, Scandinavian references to goats or the Yule buck, or if he had access to a poem by William Gilley, when Clement Moore wrote his story entitled: “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, he helped establish reindeer as a cherished Christmas symbol.
There are many Christmas symbols that trigger wonderful memories, from Christmas trees and wreaths to turkey and Santa Claus. It’s sometimes nice to take a minute to discover the origin of some of these symbols. If you take the time to explore some of these, it will give new meaning to your Christmas celebrations.
- Do You Hear the Christmas Bells?
- Understanding Christmas in Japan Traditions
- Decorating with Christmas Figurines
Filed under: A Great Christmas
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