Mistletoe and Holly
gifts and Wise Men
Candles and Lights
Christmas Tree
Christmas Food
Bow on a gift
The Candy Cane
Candy canes have been around for centuries, but it wasn't until around 1900 that they were decorated with red stripes and bent into the shape of a cane. They were sometimes handed out during church services to keep the children quiet. One story (almost certainly false) that is often told about the origin of the candy cane is as follows:

In the late 1800's a candy maker in Indiana wanted to express the meaning of Christmas through a symbol made of candy. He came up with the idea of bending one of his white candy sticks into the shape of a Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols of Christ's love and sacrifice through the Candy Cane. First, he used a plain white peppermint stick. The color white symbolizes the purity and sinless nature of Jesus. Next, he added three small stripes to symbolize the pain inflicted upon Jesus before His death on the cross. There are three of them to represent the Holy Trinity. He added a bold stripe to represent the blood Jesus shed for mankind. When looked at with the crook on top, it looks like a shepherd's staff because Jesus is the shepherd of man. If you turn it upside down, it becomes the letter J symbolizing the first letter in Jesus' name. The candy maker made these candy canes for Christmas, so everyone would remember what Christmas is all about.
WHITE- the purity of Christ
RED - Christ's blood He shed for us
GREEN - Eternal Life of Christ
GOLD - Christ the Divine
SILVER - Redemption of Christ
- angles declared to shepherds that a king was born LUKE 2

gifts and Wise Men
Christmas Tree
Christmas Food
Mistletoe and Holly
Two hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of winter. They would gather this evergreen plant that is parasitic upon other trees and used it to decorate their homes. They believed the plant had special healing powers for everything from female infertility to poison ingestion. Scandinavians also thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace and harmony. They associated mistletoe with their goddess of love, Frigga. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe probably derived from this belief. The early church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins. Instead, church fathers suggested the use of holly as an appropriate substitute for Christmas greenery.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico. They were named after America's first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett. He brought the plants to America in 1828. The Mexicans in the eighteenth century thought the plants were symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem. Thus the Poinsettia became associated with the Christmas season. The actual flower of the poinsettia is small and yellow. But surrounding the flower are large, bright red leaves, often mistaken for petals.
Bells were wrung with increasing frequency until midnight, to ward off devil of the approaching birth of Jesus.
- Bells were wrung during pagan winter celebration. It was thought that evil spirits were afraid of loud noises.
- Bells were used on the robes of the high priests in the Old Testament.
- Bells remind us that Jesus was the ultimate sacrafice for our sins and the ringing of the bells at midnight reminds us of the reason he came.
-Pagan winter festivals used candles to drive away the forces of darkness
- the candle signifies that Jesus is the light of the world.
JOHN 8:12

gifts and Wise Men
Christmas Tree
Christmas Food
The Bow on a Gift
- The Nutcracker is a toy popular and a common gift among the poor. They were useful and could be made from a scarp piece of wood.
- is to remind us "the reason for the season" and to "put Christ back into Christmas
- The Nativity scene includes Mary, Jospeh, baby Jesus in a Manger, and often includes shepherds, lambs, and wise men.
Christmas Carols are songs we sing at Christmas time, Many tell a story. St Francis of Assisi introduced carols into the church service during a Christmas midnight Mass in a cave in 1233.
-Legend has it that angels sung the 1st Christmas Carols the night Jesus was born.
- We often use stars in the decorations at Christmas to remember the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to the Christ Child. And is used on the top of Christmas Trees
- The Star of Bethlehem was an astronomical phenomenon that alerted the wise men to Jesus' birth
Gifts - gold, frankensense, myrrh
Gold- for a king
Frankensense- for a god, used in worship
Myrrh- for a man, used in preparing the body for burial.
- the giving of gifts as Christmas is an old tradition. The first Christmas gifts were given to Jesus by the wise men.
- Originally fabric headbands sometimes adorned with jewels
- symbol of Christ's crown of thorns was made with holly.
- in Germany people gathered evergreen wreaths and made fires sign of coming of Spring
- circular - everlasting life, circle of family God's unending love.
- on the door means welcome
- evergreen - Eternal LIfe of Christ


The Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree originated in Germany in the 16th century. It was common for the Germanic people to decorate fir trees, both inside and out, with roses, apples, and colored paper. It is believed that Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles. While coming home one dark winter's night near Christmas, he was struck with the beauty of the starlight shining through the branches of a small fir tree outside his home. He duplicated the starlight by using candles attached to the branches of his indoor Christmas tree. The Christmas tree was not widely used in Britain until the 19th century. It was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1820's.

Long ago food was associated with wealth, health,and happiness
- FRUIT CAKE- popular since Roman days, mixed seeds, pine nuts, raisins and barley mash. During the midevil times honey, dried fruit, and spices were substituted for barley mash. Fruit cake was considered nearly sacred and actually laws in effect until 18th century that restricted it to special celebrations such as Christmas, Easter, and weddings.
EGG NOG - Eggnog originiated in Colonial America-originally called eggs and "run" gnog.
WASSILL an early English toast to someone's health, a hot drink that is made with wine, beer, or cider, spices sugar and baked apples served in a large bowl.
These small items were traditionally hung on a Christmas tree as decorations. Many were eated before Christmas, and some became too heavy for the branches, which led to the switch to glass and wooden ornaments
Santa Claus
The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in Turkey in the 4th century. He was very pious from an early age, devoting his life to Christianity. He became widely known for his generosity for the poor. But the Romans held him in contempt. He was imprisoned and tortured. But when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he allowed Nicholas to go free. Constantine became a Christian and convened the Council of Nicaea in 325. Nicholas was a delegate to the council. He is especially noted for his love of children and for his generosity. He is the patron saint of sailors, Sicily, Greece, and Russia. He is also, of course, the patron saint of children. The Dutch kept the legend of St. Nicholas alive. In 16th century Holland, Dutch children would place their wooden shoes by the hearth in hopes that they would be filled with a treat. The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas as Sint Nikolaas, which became corrupted to Sinterklaas, and finally, in Anglican, to Santa Claus. In 1822, Clement C. Moore composed his famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which was later published as "The Night Before Christmas." Moore is credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat man in a red suit. However, his authorship is controversial. Some scholars suggest that it was Henry Livingston Jr. who wrote the poem.

probably came from the legend of gnomes and they could be either helpful or mean-spirited, depending on whether the person was naughty or nice. Scandinavian's believed that they were helpers of Father Christmas.

Ancient Norse mythology tells of the legend of Thor, the God of Thunder. Thor was known to fly through the stormy skies pulled in a chariot by magical goats named Gnasher and Cracker.

Over time, Scandinavian winter festivals that later become associated with Christmas celebrated the exploits of the Norse God. Using a costume made of goat skin and donning a manufactured goat head two men would pranced about as a goat, with some times having a third individual riding them. Such raucous holiday displays displeased Christian authorities struggling to control pagan winter rituals. Nevertheless, the celebration of the goat and his unpredictable behavior proved to be a popular and lasting element of the season.

The role of the goat, as in most roles associated with Christmas, has evolved at different times and has been recognized in different ways in different places. In Sweden, where the goat is a symbol of the season, he became a gift bringer in the tradition of Santa Claus during the 18th century. Though this fad eventually died out, the goat continued to have seasonal influence in places such as Denmark and Finland as an icon who would frighten small children and warn them to behave.

In Norway, children and adults to this day will roam through their neighborhoods entertaining neighbors with songs in exchange for treats. Many families or groups of revelers will bring a goat with them or dress as a goat in playful remembrance of the God of Thunder.

Were these Scandinavian legends a source of inspiration for Clement Moore when he reportedly wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas? Perhaps they were. Historians note that Moore, an educator in New York, might have had access to a poem by William Gilley that described Santa Claus being pulled by a team of flying reindeer. Interesting to note that A Visit From St. Nicholas appeared anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23. It was Mr. Moore who later claimed to be the author but this claim has been disputed and Henry Livingston Jr. has been named as the possible author.

Moore named Santa?s reindeer Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. Curiously, the name ?Donder? means ?thunder? in Dutch and later became Donner and ?Blitzen? means ?lightning? in German.

It wasn't until 1939 that "Rudolf" was added to the list when Robert L May wrote a poem to be distributed as a marketing campaign at Montgomery Ward titled "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer".
A bow on a Gift
A bow is placed on a gift - and tied , like man should be tied -all of us together, with the bonds of good will toward each other.