The Symbols andThe Symbols and
Traditions of ChristmasTraditions of Christmas
The Date of ChristmasThe Date of Christmas
The idea to celebrate Christmas onThe idea to celebrate Christmas on
December 25 originated in the 4thDecember 25 originated in the 4th
century. The Romans celebratedcentury. The Romans celebrated
the birthday of their sun god,the birthday of their sun god,
Mithras during this time of year.Mithras during this time of year.
Church leaders decided toChurch leaders decided to
celebrate the birth of Jesus Christcelebrate the birth of Jesus Christ
on this date. But it was slow toon this date. But it was slow to
catch on in America. Thecatch on in America. The
celebration of Christmas was evencelebration of Christmas was even
banned by law in Massachusetts inbanned by law in Massachusetts in
colonial days.colonial days.
The vines and berries ofThe vines and berries of
mistletoe were sacred to themistletoe were sacred to the
ancient Druids who used them inancient Druids who used them in
their sacrifices to the gods astheir sacrifices to the gods as
well as to celebrate the winterwell as to celebrate the winter
The mistletoe, which was alsoThe mistletoe, which was also
believed to have miraculousbelieved to have miraculous
healing powers, was placed overhealing powers, was placed over
doorways to ward off evil anddoorways to ward off evil and
bestow health, happiness, andbestow health, happiness, and
good luck.good luck.
Wreaths of Holly and BerriesWreaths of Holly and Berries
Druids once believed that holly,Druids once believed that holly,
with its shiny leaves and redwith its shiny leaves and red
berries stayed green in winter toberries stayed green in winter to
keep the Earth beautiful when thekeep the Earth beautiful when the
sacred Oak lost its leaves.sacred Oak lost its leaves.
Holly in Christianity, serves as aHolly in Christianity, serves as a
reminder of the crown of thornsreminder of the crown of thorns
worn by Jesus Christ at hisworn by Jesus Christ at his
Poinsettias are native to Mexico.Poinsettias are native to Mexico.
They were named afterThey were named after
America's first ambassador toAmerica's first ambassador to
Mexico, Joel Poinsett. He broughtMexico, Joel Poinsett. He brought
the plants to America in 1828.the plants to America in 1828.
The Mexicans in the eighteenthThe Mexicans in the eighteenth
century thought the plants werecentury thought the plants were
symbolic of the Star ofsymbolic of the Star of
Bethlehem. Thus the PoinsettiaBethlehem. Thus the Poinsettia
became associated with thebecame associated with the
Christmas season.Christmas season.
The Christmas TreeThe Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree originated inThe Christmas Tree originated in
Germany in the 16th century. It isGermany in the 16th century. It is
believed that Martin Lutherwas thebelieved that Martin Lutherwas the
first to light a Christmas tree withfirst to light a Christmas tree with
candles. While coming home one darkcandles. While coming home one dark
winter's night near Christmas, he waswinter's night near Christmas, he was
struck with the beauty of thestruck with the beauty of the
starlight shining through the branchesstarlight shining through the branches
of a small fir tree outside his home.of a small fir tree outside his home.
He duplicated the starlight by usingHe duplicated the starlight by using
candles attached to the branches ofcandles attached to the branches of
his indoor Christmas tree.his indoor Christmas tree.
The Candy CaneThe Candy Cane
The most obvious symbolism used inThe most obvious symbolism used in
the candy cane is its shape.the candy cane is its shape.
Turned one way, it looks like a "J"Turned one way, it looks like a "J"
for Jesus.for Jesus.
Turned the other way, candy canesTurned the other way, candy canes
remind us of the shepherd's staff.remind us of the shepherd's staff.
Some say the 3 small stripes honorSome say the 3 small stripes honor
the Holy Trinity, while the largerthe Holy Trinity, while the larger
stripe reminds us of the One Truestripe reminds us of the One True
Santa ClausSanta Claus
The original Santa Claus, St.The original Santa Claus, St.
Nicholaus was born in 4th centuryNicholaus was born in 4th century
Turkey. He was a devoted Christian.Turkey. He was a devoted Christian.
He was known for his generosity andHe was known for his generosity and
for his love of children. He is thefor his love of children. He is the
patron saint of sailors and children.patron saint of sailors and children.
In 16th century Holland, DutchIn 16th century Holland, Dutch
children would place their woodenchildren would place their wooden
shoes by the hearts in hopes thatshoes by the hearts in hopes that
they would be filled with a treat. Inthey would be filled with a treat. In
1822, Clement C. Moore composed his1822, Clement C. Moore composed his
famous poem, "A Visit from St.famous poem, "A Visit from St.
Nicholas," which was later publishedNicholas," which was later published
as "The Night Before Christmas."as "The Night Before Christmas."