Twelve Days of Christmas• During the early times of Christianity, when Christians were persecuted, this song was used as a means of teaching the catechism to children. Each phrase means the following…
Twelve Days of ChristmasMy true love GodMe The ChristianPartridge in a pear tree JesusTwo Turtle Doves The old and new testamentsThree French hens Faith, hope and loveFour calling birds The four gospelsFive gold rings The first five books of the BibleSix geese a-laying The six days of creationSeven swans a-swimming The seven gifts of the Holy SpiritEight maids a-milking The beatitudesNine ladies dancing The nine fruits of the Holy SpiritTen lords a-leaping The ten commandmentsEleven pipers piping The eleven faithful disciplesTwelve drummers drumming The twelve points of the apostle creed
MistletoeWhen Christianity became widespread in Europe after the 3rd century AD, thereligious or mystical respect for the mistletoe plant was integrated to an extent intothe new religion. In some way that is not presently understood, this may have led tothe widespread custom of kissing under the mistletoe plant during the Christmasseason. The earliest documented case of kissing under the mistletoe dates from 16thcentury England, a custom that was apparently very popular at that time.It was a Cornish tradition that mistletoe was originally a fine tree from which thewood of the cross was made, but afterwards it was been condemned to live on onlyas a parasite.According to custom, the mistletoe must not touch the ground between its cuttingand its removal as the last of Christmas greens at Candlemas it may remain hangingthrough the year, often to preserve the house from lightning or fire, until it isreplaced the following Christmas Eve. The tradition has spread throughout theEnglish-speaking world but is largely unknown in the rest of Europe.
Wreaths• Advent • Christmas – The wreath symbolizes the • The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of our souls and of eternity of God, the immortality of God. the soul, and the everlasting life – The purple candles signify found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, penitence, reminding us that or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and Advent is a time of readying resurrection. All together, the wreath ourselves for the second of evergreens depicts the immortality coming of Christ. of our soul and the new, everlasting – The rose candle is for Gaudete life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who Sunday, a time for rejoicing. entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.
Manger Scene • Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 (a "living" one) wanting to promote the worship of Christ, having been inspired by his recent visit to the Holy Land where he had seen Jesus traditional birthplace. The scenes popularity inspired communities throughout Catholic countries to stage similar pantomimes.
PoinsettiaIt gets its name from John Poinsett,the first US minister (ambassador) toMexico who brought the plant backto the US in 1832. The plants use forChristmas decor began in 16thcentury Mexico, where a young girl,the story says, was too poor to affordgifts for Christmas. The tale She wastold by an angel to pick weeds andplace them by the altar in church.Crimson "blossoms" sprouted fromthe weeds and became beautifulpoinsettias. From the 17th century,Franciscan friars in Mexico includedthe plants in their Christmascelebrations. The star shape is saidto represent the star of Bethlehem,while the red color represents Jesus’sacrifice.
Christmas Trees • The evergreen tree represents everlasting life in Christ. "The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime." • Alternatively, it is identified with the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on Christmas Eve. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit in Eden) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the manger, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.
Holly• The prickles on holly are said to represent the crown of thorns of Christ, while the berries represent drops of His blood.
Candy Canes• In 1670, it is believed that a choirmaster in Cologne, Germany wanted to keep his young charges quiet, so he had a local candy maker create a treat for them to keep busy. He asked them to make it shaped as a shepherd’s crook since Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The white represents Jesus’ sinless purity, while the red represents his sacrifice.
Red and GreenBack in the 1300s Adam and Eves Daywas celebrated on Christmas Eve.Churches in those days presented a lot ofplays because most people wereilliterate. The plays were focused onreligious stories of importance to thechurch and were called miracle plays. OnAdam and Eves Day the play was calledthe paradise play and portrayed whathappened in the Garden of Eden. Therewasnt an apple tree available in thewinter so they made one by tying applesto a pine tree and it served as the treethat bore the forbidden fruit. This pinetree with the red apples eventuallybecame a tradition in all churches andwas used in their Christmas celebrationsevery year.So, green and red became the symbols ofChristmas day as well.
Santa ClausOr, Saint Nicholas, was aGreek bishop in 4th centurywho had a reputation forgiving secret gifts.One story tells of himhelping a poor man with 3daughters for whom he hadno dowry so they couldmarry and avoid a life ofpoverty and sin. Nicholas issaid to have thrown bags ofmoney into the man’s houseso the girls would be able tomarry.
Gifting Giving• Some believe it is traced back to Saint Nicholas’ gift-giving.• Others trace it to the gifts given by the Magi to the baby Jesus.
Stockings• Some legends around Saint Nicholas say that he left gifts for children in the socks left on the clotheslines at night. So we relive that on Christmas by putting stockings out.
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