The Nativity Scene| Candy Cane| Christmas Tree| Santa Claus
Holly Leaf| Mistletoe| Christmas Carol

The Nativity Scene

Legend tells us that Saint Francis of Assisi constructed the first nativity scene. His depiction included live animals. Francis knew that all the earth can be "holy land."

The Candy Cane

The candy cane represents one of the oldest symbols of Christmas, the shepherd's crook, for the shepherds were among the first to experience that first Christmas.

The colors of the candy cane have special meaning, too. The wide red stripe represents the sacrifice of Christ, "For by his stripes we are healed." The narrow red stripes represent our own sacrifices (giving). The white stripe is a symbol of purity.

The peppermint plant is a member of the hyssop family, referred to in the Old Testament as a medicinal herb used for cleansing.

As you eat your candy cane, you might want to break it, as Christ's body was broken for you, and share it with a friend, thus sharing in the sweetness of the true meaning of Christmas.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree, which is an evergreen with it's boughs stretched toward heaven, reminds us of the everlasting life that Christ came to bring sinners. The candles or lights on the tree remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. This surely is what Martin Luther envisioned back in 1535 when he cut and decorated the first Christmas tree for his children. Prince Albert carried the Christmas tree custom from Germany to Windsor Castle in 1841. Ten years later, a Cleveland minister was accused of sacrilege and idolatry when he put up the first American tree. But a young child saw it right. "Mother", he whispered, "the pastor's got a tree from heaven!"

Santa Claus

There are many stories of how the legend of Santa Claus began. My favorite story says that the modern Santa finds his origin in a young pastor named Nicholas. His parents died when he was still a boy, leaving him a fortune. He loved the Lord and cared deeply for those in need. Not wanting to receive any glory himself, he went secretly, during the night, to the homes of poor families. There he left gifts and money because of his love for Christ.

Holly Leaf

The holly leaves and berries from the holly bush are widely used in holiday decorations. The sharp pointy edges of the holly leaf remind us of the crown of thorns that Jesus wore upon his brow. The red berries remind us of the blood that Jesus shed.


The tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe began with a Scandinavian goddess called Frigga. Frigga's son Balder was shot with an arrow made of mistletoe. While Frigga's friends conjured up powers to save the boy, his mother cried tears that became the white berries on the mistletoe. Frigga's friends succeeded in saving Balder's life. Frigga ordered that the mistletoe should never again be used to harm others. Instead, she made it a symbol of love by kissing everyone who passed under it.

Christmas Carols

Not all songs that we sing at Christmas time are carols. Most songs sung in church or by church choirs are actually hymns. Centuries ago, a carol was a group dance accompanied by a joyful song. Gradually it came to mean the song itself. A carol became a happy melody that anyone could sing. Caroling still means singing songs of joy but more than that it means singing the beautiful songs about the most joyous news that men have ever heard.