Christmas Symbols: What Do They Mean?

Christmas Symbols
Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s a great time for families to spend quality time together. In an effort to encourage this, my church has hosted Family Advent Nights. These three nights were designed to give parents the tools to place the focus of Christmas back where it belongs, on the birth of Jesus.
Our focus last night was on Christmas symbols. We often see symbols that remind us of various things. When you see a cartoon drawing of an elephant and a donkey, you likely think of Republicans and Democrats. Signs and symbols evoke memories and enable us to be reminded of things.
Christmas symbols also have special meanings. Last night, families took a scavenger hunt around the church to find these symbols. They then enjoyed cookies shaped as stars, Christmas trees, wreaths, and bells, read Christmas symbol books, and made their own gift bags full of the miniature Christmas symbols. Below are the symbols and their meanings:

Candy Cane: Shepherds are in the Luke 2 birth narrative. They use a crook, and a candy cane is shaped like this. Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd in John 10. The J also begins the name of Jesus.

Evergreen: Christmas trees and wreaths are made of evergreen, a tree that is always green. Evergreen reminds us of God’s everlasting love (Romans 8:35-39).

Holly: This plant is spiky, reminding us of Jesus’s crown of thorns. It also has red berries, reminding us of Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross (Matthew 27).

Angel: Angels announce Jesus’s birth to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds in the birth narratives (Matthew 1, Luke 2).

Wreath: The circle never ends, nor does God’s love. It is made of evergreen (which is always green).

Star: In Matthew 2, the magi follow a star to find Jesus.

Poinsettia: This star-shaped flower reminds us of the star that the magi followed (Matthew 2). It is a red flower, reminding us of Jesus’s sacrifice.

Gift/Present: Jesus was a gift to humanity (John 3:16-17). Also, the magi gave gifts to Jesus, and we share gifts with those we love today.

Bell: Bells have been used for centuries to gather groups together and to announce important things. They are rung on Christmas and Easter. 

Try this: Take a scavenger hunt around your home, a store, or your neighborhood to discover these common Christmas symbols. Explain to your children what they mean, and bring the true meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus) to the forefront this Advent season.

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