Do you feel the Christmas spirit in the air yet? With all the decorations in your home, at the mall, and almost everywhere you go, it’s hard not to get in a festive mood, right? But with the industrialization of Christmas, it’s also very easy to forget about what these things really mean. So as a bit of a reminder, we put together some of the most popular Christmas items, and explained how they’re related to Christmas.
1. Christmas tree
Usually, whenever we decorate our homes the Christmas tree is always the center of attention. Even in malls we see Christmas trees that reach up to 50 feet, or more! But the Christmas tree is actually a symbol of Christ as the tree of life. The green color is supposedly a sign of life, especially in other countries where it is difficult to see green in the winter.
The parol is one of the most popular Filipino Christmas decorations. It is supposed to represent the Star of Bethlehem–the star that the Three Kings or Wise Men followed to the infant Jesus. It also symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, and the Filipinos’ hope and goodwill during the Christmas season.
The belen is another popular Filipino Christmas decoration. The figurines–whether wax, wood, glass, metal, etc.–are all representations of each of the people who were present during the birth of Christ. There’s Joseph, Mary, and the child Jesus in a manger. If you have a bigger belen, then there’s also the shepherds who come to visit Jesus, and their sheep!
The poinsettia is a flower indigenous to Mexico, where legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Inspired by an angel, she gathered weeds by the roadside, and left it at the church altar. The next day, the weeds were said to have grown into poinsettias. Legend aside, some say that the shape of the poinsettia leaves is also a reminder of the Star of Bethlehem, and that the red color is a symbol of Christ’s love for us, as well as his death on the cross.
5. Santa Claus
We know him as the jolly old man in a red suit who gives gifts to good boy and girls (and likes milk and cookies), but actually, the idea of Santa Claus originated from Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a very generous Greek bishop, most famously known for providing three impoverished women with dowries. It was said that on his feast day, parents would give gifts to their children in his honor.
6. Christmas wreath
This decoration is one of the quintessential Christmas favorites, and is usually seen hanging on doors. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes God who has no beginning and no end, while the green color (wreaths are supposedly made out of evergreens), symbolize the everlasting life brought through Jesus.
When the Three Kings or Wise Men came to visit the infant Jesus in the manger, they came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor him. This is where the practice of gift giving on Christmas began. Not only were the gifts meant to honor, they were also a commemoration of the celebration of Jesus’ birth.