Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s a great time for families to spend quality time together. What a great time to snuggle up with your children and talk about why we celebrate Christmas: the birth of Jesus. One way to do this is to pay attention to the things around you, enjoying the sights and sounds, while giving meaning to the beauty of the season.
Do you know why certain symbols are used at Christmas? 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, too. Below are some common Christmas symbols, along with an explanation of what each symbolizes:
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.