The Story of Christmas Symbols

Christmas Scrabbles Bokeh Photography1. Mistletoe

Did you know the mistletoe should never touch the ground after being cut and removing it from the home? It’s supposed to be the last of the “green” decorations removed from the home once Christmas is over. Originally, it is supposed to be hung every year to protect the house from fires. The most known symbolism is that any who meet under it are obliged to kiss. Mistletoe has been used as a Christmas decoration way back in the 18th century.

2. Christmas Trees

Originally, the Christmas tree began in modern Germany in the early Renaissance when they would decorate pine or fir trees with apples, roses, candies, and colored paper. The 16th century origins seem to center around Martin Luther, but the popularity really began after members of nobility picked up the tradition. Decoration the tree became more popular and widespread in the UK after Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.

3. Christmas Stockings

Many popular legends have tried to find ways to explain the Christmas stocking, but there is actually a bit of confusion around how the tradition started. Some say it starts with an elderly man who had 3 daughters but had no money to pay for their dowries, and so they couldn’t get married. St. Nicholas was riding through their village and hear about the story. The old man wouldn’t accept charity, so he went down their chimney and found the stockings that the daughters hung by the fireplace to dry. He placed a bag of gold in each stocking, and the next morning the women and their father were overjoyed. They were soon married after. Ever since, adults and children have hung stockings by the fireplace.

4. Candy Cane

In 1670, a German choirmaster wanted to find a way to get children to be quiet in church during the Christmas Eve ceremonies. He asked a local sweet maker to make sweet sticks for the children. To justify giving the kids candy during worship, he had the sweet maker add the crook to the tip of each stick to resemble to crocks of the three shepherds, and to make them red and white to reinforce the belief of the sinless life of Jesus. The candies spread through Europe while being given out during the nativity plays. Now they are the popular tradition we know, coming in more than just the original peppermint flavor.

5. Poinsettia

The plant’s associations with Christmas come from Mexico. They tell a story of a young girl who was too poor to pay for a present to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Angels inspired her to pick weeds to place in front of the church alter. The weeds became poinsettias when the crimson blossoms sprouted from them. Starting in the 17th century, friars in Mexico incorporated the bright flowers into the Christmas celebrations because they believe in their special symbolism. The star shape of the leaf symbolizes the star of Bethlehem and the red symbolizes the blood sacrifice by Christ’s crucifixion. The plants are a popular Christmas decoration, and December 12th is even National Poinsettia Day in the US.

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