Happy Christmas Eve! I'm here with another Christmas post to encourage you to reflect on the symbolism of all the traditionally festive items that make up the Christmas spirit. There may be more to some of them than you thought! But this is not an exhaustive list ;)
What is one thing that is essential to Christmas and is not used throughout the rest of the year? (That last phrase was to keep you all from guessing "food.") A Christmas tree!! We have a real Christmas tree this year and it's glorious ^.^ There's a whole lot of the Biblical story wrapped up in Christmas trees, even though I'm pretty sure there were no evergreens in Bethlehem. At least not wintry ones.
First, there's the fact that we only use evergreen trees. Cedar, firs, pine ... you have options. The whole point of evergreens is that they don't turn brown with the season changes. They only do that when you cut them down and stick them in your living room, but even then it takes a few weeks. Undying life. What does that remind you of? Even death could not conquer Christ, and the promise of His coming goes back to Adam and Eve when they were removed from the tree of life. Through Christ, we're reconnected to God, because He lived after He died and God's love for us is undying. Life and death is a big theme in the Bible's overarching story :)
Christmas trees also are triangular. Not really, but in 2D form they are. I can't remember where I read this, but I believe that trees were first used in early Christian Christmas services because the leaders of the church believed the tree was a sign of the trinity: three points, all equally crucial to the tree. I'm pretty sure this tradition didn't begin until the 16th century, but only in certain regions of the world. Before then, other pagan cultures used evergreen branches as part of their winter festivals, so it took a while for all churches to accept that Christmas trees weren't, in fact, a pagan practice.
What I would consider the second most essential item to the Christmas spirit is lights. They're so warm and twinkly and fun. Some people go all out with strobes, projectors, inflatables, and all of that to elevate the Christmas spirit. Adults really get into it! I personally like the warm white Christmas icicle lights and the ones that line roofs. But lights are lights! Jesus was called the Light of the World. He brought light to overcome the darkness of man's spiritual condition. The metaphor that appears all throughout the prophecies and fulfillment is intentionally a part of our celebration today.
There's also presents! My littlest brother cannot wait to start opening the presents stacking up under our tree. (We've had to re-wrap a few.) While gifts seem to go along with some celebrations, like birthdays, they have a deeper meaning for Christmas. First, the wise men brought gifts to Jesus when they visited Him. He was probably around two at the time just like my littlest brother, so I'm sure He was excited! Gold, frankincense, and myrrh may not sound like much to get excited about as a two-year-old, but they were very valuable. Second, Jesus is the most precious gift we as a human race have ever received. Maybe try giving a little of Him this Christmas season.
Now we get to food. :D Specifically, candy canes. We own the most precious Christmas book ever called The Legend of the Candy Cane and it's amazing. Have you ever thought about a candy cane as anything more than a Christmas candy? I probably wouldn't have either, but I've read this book every year for as long as I can remember, so I'm not ever going to forget now! First, a candy cane is the shape of a crook. Like a shepherd's crook? Hm, yes :) And if you turn it upside down it looks like a certain letter of the alphabet that Jesus begins with. I have no idea if candy canes were created to represent the Biblical story, but it works out rather well.
The traditional red and white stripes also represent something: Jesus's sacrifice. You probably remember that the scourging He received before His crucifixion is often referred to as "stripes." The red candy stripe represents the blood sacrifice He made on our behalf and the white represents our perfectly clean condition once we apply that sacrifice to our lives.
Let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas as we have fun celebrating with family tomorrow. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Hopefully you enjoyed that and some of the symbolism was new to you :) What is your favorite part of Christmas? Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?