A sprig of evergreen plant hung at Christmas time. Custom is that people can kiss each other standing under it.
I get that these things are all customs that people do at Christmas. But that's not the same to me as having specific religious significance when associated with Jesus's birth. My point was just that American Christmas doesn't seem to be particularly religious (it seems more like an American holiday than a religious holiday).
Christmas tree-the evergreen is an ancient symbol of eternal life, which we have through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Christmas tree has a star on top. When we look at a Christmas Tree, we are reminded of the eternal life we will enjoy in the presence of Christ.
Christmas Lights-represent the fact that Jesus is the Light of the World in the midst of profound darkness. When we see Christmas lights on buildings and Christmas trees, and lit candles, we're reminded of Jesus, the Light of the World.
Nativity Scene-I don't have to explain this one do I?
The use of Red and Green Christmas colors: Red=the blood of Christ, the sacrifice of blood that Jesus shed while hanging on the cross.
Santa Claus : the original St. Nicklaus who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey back in the 3rd or 4th century. He was a devout Christian who served and helped poor people, living out the dictates of Jesus Christ. We honor him because he set us an excellent example. The Christmas stocking has many supposed origins. One is that children left their stockings on the fireplace mantle to dry, and St. Nick tiptoed in the door and dropped treats into them.
Bells:In the days before people had phones, wall calendars, wrist watches, etc, the church, which was the center of the community, would ring its bell(s) to call people to church services, toll someone's death, etc. The bells were (and still are, in some places) rung to announce the anniversary of Christ's birth. When we see Christmas bells, we are reminded of the announcement of Jesus' birth.
Stars: at Christmas time represent the biblical Star of Bethlehem for the wise men to follow,. It is said that they travelled so far that by the time they found Jesus, He was a couple years old. When we see stars at Christmas time, they remind us of that special star that showed foreign dignitaries where Jesus was.
Gifts: Giving one another presents is a ritual straight from the Bible. Salvation is called in the New Testament 'A free gift'. Jesus is God's gift to human beings. We give each other gifts because God set the precedent by giving so much to us, in the form of His creation, His Son, and Himself. When we see Christmas presents they remind us of the most precious gift God gave us-- the way to Heaven through Jesus.
Some things like candy canes, mistletoe etc may originally come from the pagans.
Top 10 Christmas Symbols
Wreaths of Holly and Berries
- Druids once believed that holly, with its shiny leaves and red berries stayed green in Winter to keep the earth beautiful when the sacred Oak lost it leaves.
- Holly was the sacred plant of Saturn and was used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to honor him. Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried them about decorating images of Saturn with it.
- Holly in Christianity, serves as a reminder of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion.
The Star Atop The Tree
Guidance and Protection
The original Nautical Star, or North Star, was seen as providing guidance, and good luck for sailors.
- In Germany and in Amish lore, the 5-Pointed Star provides protection from fire and lightning or a protection for livestock, good fortune, hope, love, fertility, energy and harmony. The Eight-Pointed Star symbolizes goodwill, good omens, light and protection. The Triple Star represents good luck, success and happiness.
- Before becoming a prominent symbol of Judaism, the six pointed star was used by alchemists and was said to have been used by Druid priests as protection against evil ghosts.
- In the Old Testament, the starry sky symbolized the numerous children of Abraham, and gave direction to the promised land.
- In Christianity, the Star of Bethlehem guided the three wise men and announced the birth of Christ. Eventually, stars were placed on the tops of Christmas Trees to celebrate His birth.
The Tree of Life and The Origin of The Christmas Tree
Pagans had considered the "World Tree" or the "Tree of Life" as a representative of life and their universe for thousands of years. It was only natural to continue to use a tree as a symbol for the birth and re-birth of Christ.
In the early seventeenth century, Germans began bringing these trees indoors at Christmas and decorating them with candles.
The end result is that today we see these trees all over the world, used in a festive spirit of peace and joy, and still place a star or an Angel over the top, much as the Ancients did over 5000 years ago.
The Ringing of The Bells
Drive out Evil
-Bells were rung at pagan winter celebrations. It was thought that evil spirits could be driven out by loud noises, and bells often accompanied singing and shouting.
- Bells are mentioned in the Old Testament as being used on the robes of the high priest.
- During the Middle ages bells were rung with increasing frequency until midnight, to warn the devil of the approaching birth of the Christ Child.
Mistletoe and the Kissing Ball
Health and Luck
- The vines and berries of mistletoe were sacred to the ancient Druids who used them in their sacrifices to the gods as well as to celebrate the winter solstice.
- The mistletoe, which was also believed to have miraculous healing powers, was placed over doorways to ward off evil and bestow health, happiness, and good luck.
- In eighteenth century England, kissing balls were made of evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments with sprigs of mistletoe tied to the bottoms of the balls.
- Because embraces of welcome occurred at doorways, the custom evolved into balls of greens and berries hung at entrances.