“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

Jesus is the reason for this blessed season. He is the One around whom our Christmas celebration is centered. As we become immersed in the holidays, caught up in its busyness and secular festivities, we often lose sight of the true meaning of this most special holiday.

The spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Christ alive in this world. So many of the traditions we cherish and enjoy each year point to Jesus, our Savior. With a bit of exploring, we discover how many of the treasured sights, sounds, tastes and aromas of the season remind us of our Lord. Understanding the symbolism behind our traditions will enlighten us to remember Christ this Christmas season.

♦    Christmas Trees – The fresh scent of pine trees evokes memories of merry Christmases past. We enjoy the cherished tradition of decorating Christmas trees with lights and treasured ornaments. The tree’s triangular shape represents the Holy Trinity… while its heavenward orientation suggests our relationship to God. Evergreens stay green all through the seasons… reminding us of Jesus who is ever with us through all the seasons of our lives.

♦    Christmas Lights – Lights sparkle and beautify our Christmas trees, our homes and our towns at this time of year, illuminating the dark winter nights. Jesus came as the Light of the World. He rescued us from darkness and brought us into His light and His love. He is the light of our lives… and we shine His light into a dark world.

♦    Wreaths – A welcoming adornment for our front doors, wreaths are fashioned by intertwining evergreens into crown shapes fitting for a King. With no beginning or end, wreaths represent eternal life…  the everlasting life we have in Christ. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End… with a love for us that is measureless. Our lives are forever intertwined with His.

♦    Bells – A symbol of joy, bells ring out at Christmastime to announce the joyful birth of Christ. In biblical times, bells were worn on the sacred garments of priests. Today, Jesus is our High Priest who intercedes for us before the Father. Shepherds rang bells to call their sheep back home. Our Shepherd calls us back when we stray. He is the joy of our lives. He is the good news that rings out into the world.

♦    Holly – Holly is a popular Christmas adornment. This evergreen shrub can grow into a tall tree, attracting berry-loving birds like cedar waxwings. Its thorn-like leaves are reminiscent of the crown of thorns placed upon the head of Jesus prior to His crucifixion. The bright-red berries call to mind the blood shed for all people by our Savior in His ultimate sacrifice.

♦    Poinsettias – This favorite Christmas plant is often given by guests to bring cheer to the homes of their hosts. Its star-shaped petals typify the star that shone over Bethlehem the night of the nativity. The bright color of red poinsettias alludes to the saving blood of Christ. Snowy white poinsettias point to the holiness of our Savior.

♦    Christmas Carols – The joyful sounds of carols fill the air at Christmastime. Songs have long been an expression of joy and celebration. So many of the carols we sing are rich in Scripture, sharing the Christmas story and the good news of the gospel’s hope. We are reminded of the eternal joy that comes through the presence of our Lord in our lives.

♦    Presents – Friends and family joyfully exchange gifts at Christmastime. We remember the magi who came from afar to visit the Christ Child in Bethlehem. They came bearing gifts fit for royalty for this Holy One… gold, frankincense and myrrh. God gave us the greatest gift of all in Jesus, our King of Kings. Because we have been so abundantly blessed, we find joy in giving to others.

♦    Bows – Brightly wrapped presents are placed under the Christmas tree decorated with colorful ribbons. The bows tied atop the gifts recall the unity we have with all believers in Christ. His bond of love ties us all together as one. For He is all and is in all. We radiate His love and peace to the world during this sacred season.

♦    Stars – Stars are symbols of hope. Shining brightly atop Christmas trees, stars are a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem that shone over the stable that holy night. The star led the shepherds to discover the promised Messiah Christ. The star guided the magi’s journey to the tiny manger in Bethlehem where they found the infant King Jesus. Today, Jesus guides us on our journey of life.

♦    Candles – Before the invention of electricity, candles adorned the Christmas trees of old. Today, people place candles in their windows to remember the Light of Life, Jesus Christ. He is the Light that has come into the world… and the darkness will never overcome it.  We are children of the Light with His Light shining in our hearts.

♦    Candy Canes – The quintessential taste of Christmas, peppermint always awakens memories of the holidays. Shaped like a shepherd’s crook, candy canes recall our Good Shepherd who gave His life for us and watches over our lives daily. The white color represents the absolute purity of the Lamb of God. The red color portrays His precious blood that atones for all sin.

♦    Gingerbread Men – The enticing aroma of ginger cookies baking in the oven permeates our homes in this merry season. Christian tradition holds that gingerbread men point to God’s creation of Adam and Eve. God is the Creator of all… and we remember His miraculous and wondrous creation of us, His kingdom children, made in His image.

♦    Doves – A symbol of peace, doves are a popular ornament to adorn the Christmas tree. The dove represents the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with us. Our Immanuel Jesus promises to never leave or forsake us. He is the source of our peace that passes all understanding. We impart His peace to the world in this blessed season.

♦    Angels – Heralds of joyful news and hope in the Christmas story, angels are often placed high atop the Christmas tree. The archangel Gabriel came to share with Mary the news that she would bear God’s Son. Outside Bethlehem, an angel proclaimed the news of the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds. A host of heavenly angels praised and glorified God for the joy of the Christ Child born that holy night.