Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling – Edna Ferber
With Christmas finally here, the frenzy of getting things ready for the big day has reached its peak. People were definitely busy with all the last minute baking, festive decor, gift wrapping and hanging in those last few ornaments on the evergreen fir tree. Well, Christmas is all about spreading the good cheer and the season to be jolly and grateful. And some symbols that are quintessentially Christmas include the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, candy cane sticks, reindeers, bells, baubles, wreaths and snowflakes. While decorating the Christmas tree with all these ornaments has been a ritual since time immemorial, did you know that there are some time honoured traditions associated with each of them? Well, here are a few:
A symbol of life and hope, evergreen firs and pines have been associated with winter season celebrations since ancient times. A reminder of spring and warmer days, the tree soon beacame a symbol of Christmas. While the present day Alsace region of France is said to be the location of the birth of the Christmas tree tradition, the decoration of the tree on the occasion of Christmas is believed to have been done first in Germany in the 16th century.
Bells and baubles
Bells are a call for celebration and were used to welcome baby Jesus into the world. The ringing of bells is also considered to be a means to ward off the evil spirit in many cultures across the world. Many poems like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells” and popular carols like “Jingle Bells” have been inspired by the Christmas Bell traditions. Baubles originated from the Roman tradition of hanging fruit from trees which essentially is a symbol of prosperity and fertility.
Again a symbol of hope for humanity, the star is normally placed on top of the tree as a treetopper. Known to be the star of Bethlehem, it is believed that this was the guiding light for the Magi to reach new born Jesus and give Him gifts.
Used in many cultures, the circular shape of the wreath is known to be symbolic of the circle of life and the love of God. The red berries and thorny leaves that are traditionally used for making Christmas wreathes symbolise the thorny crown worn by Jesus and the drops of blood it drew.
Christmas in most countries is celebrated in winter amidst snowfall and freezing temperatures. The snowflake is an intricate beauty carved by nature and in many ways an ode to the creativity of God. It resembles a snow star and stars are again intrinsic to Christmas celebrations.
Santa, stockings and reindeer
Santa Claus is a legendary character and a favourite with children as he is known to bring gifts to ‘well behaved’ kids on the eve of Christmas. In Western cultures, particularly America, Santa Claus travels the world on Christmas Eve delivering gifts in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Known to be a native of Lapland in Finland, Santa Claus is also known as Father Christmas and his image is based on traditions associated with St. Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint.
“Our Christmas ornaments are representative of these lovely traditions and stories which are associated with this beautiful festival. Our ornaments can be used as a gift topper or as a key chain/ bag tag as well.. because why should only the Christmas tree at home have all the fun and cheer!” says Aditi and Atisi, Founders, Fitoori Banjaaran
Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Another version of this article was published in The New Indian Express