I enjoy the opportunity to read others blogs, getting a peak into their lives that you might not normally see. I've recently read some interesting thoughts on Christmas traditions in relation to Christ, which got me thinking. How many different types and symbols in the holiday traditions are there? Of course Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. But how many decorations or songs or performances are there that we may take for granted or perhaps not understand its meaning completely; which can point our minds to more fully focus on Christ. Well that sentence was a mouthful. I just want to share a few of the interesting things I have read:
The Christmas Tree ~ it is commonly known the evergreen is a symbol of eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all. I found what came out of Germany in the 16th century to be interesting. They decorated the fir trees with roses and candies and apples, and the day before Christmas put on a play depicting the story of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The tree hung with apples was used to symbolize the Garden, and the play ended with the prophecy of the Savior's coming. Those who have been through the temple may find this symbolism of the Christmas tree more meaningful. It is also interesting to ponder as we try to emulate Christ by giving gifts, we typically first place these gifts at the foot of the tree.
Lights ~ are found everywhere during the Christmas season, decorating our homes, pathways, trees, etc. We know that Jesus is the Light of the World. Light is a fascinating subject in the scriptures. On perhaps a lesser note, yet interesting, if we go back to those middle-ages in Germany, the reformer Martin Luther was rumored to begun the tradition of adorning trees with lights. While coming home one December evening, the beauty of the stars shining through the branches of a fir inspired him to recreate the effect by placing candles on the branches of a small fir tree inside his home. So as we stare at the twinkling lights in the tree on Christmas Eve, we might think of the stars on a clear night as our gaze is turned heavenward, perhaps in search of the Star of Bethlehem or angel proclaiming the birth of Jesus.
Holly and Mistletoe ~ these plants not only celebrate the Christmas colors, but also have unique stories behind them. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Legend has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed. The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace. Christ is the master healer. He is the prince of peace.
The 12 Days of Christmas ~ I always thought this was a goofy old song about giving presents during twelve days around Christmas. I never realized the symbolism in this catholic catechism which begins on Christmas and ends on Epiphany (January 5th). I won't write out the whole song here, but... on the first day of Christmas my true love (God) gave to me, a partridge (Jesus) in a pear tree.
"He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ." (D&C 88:6-7)