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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS. Advent Preparation for the Lord coming again Purple symbolizes the penitential spirit Pink symbolizes the “O Antiphons” which begin with the word Gaudete or rejoice. It is a celebration of joy. SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS. O Antiphons O Sapientia - Come, Wisdom of our God

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symbols of christmas
SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Advent
    • Preparation for the Lord coming again
    • Purple symbolizes the penitential spirit
    • Pink symbolizes the “O Antiphons” which begin with the word Gaudete or rejoice. It is a celebration of joy.
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • O Antiphons

O Sapientia - Come, Wisdom of our God

O Adonai - Come, Leader of ancient Israel

O Radix Jesse - Come, Flower of Jesse’s stem

O Clavis David - Come, Key of David

O Oriens - Come, Radiant Dawn

O Rex Gentium - Come, King of all Nations

O Emmanuel - Come, Emmanuel

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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Origins of Christmas
    • Mass of Christ “Cristes Maesse”
      • Celebrate God coming to live amongst us
      • With Jesus as a model celebrates giving and receiving
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • No one knows the date of Jesus’ birth
    • Probably between 8-6 BCE
    • Western church
      • December 25
    • Eastern church
      • January 6
  • Winter solstice (shortest day of the year)
    • Romans celebrated “birthday of the unconquered sun”
    • Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist on the day of atonement September 25 (fall equinox)
    • John born June 24 (summer solstice)
    • Jesus conceived March 25 (spring equinox)
    • Jesus born December 25 (winter solstice)
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Christmas Candle
    • Yule Candle burned with the Yule log. A scented log kept burning 12 days.
    • Placed in the middle of Advent wreath the candle symbolizes completion. Christ is come.
    • Light pushes away the darkness of sin and religious ignorance
    • The light of Christ that came into the world
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Window Lights
    • 19th Century Irish Immigrants
    • A beacon to light the way for Mary and Joseph
    • During a time of religious persecution the candles lit the way for fugitive priests to safe houses
    • Christmas carolers in Boston used it to identify catholic households
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Hanukah
    • Jewish festival of lights
    • 25th day of the lunar month of Kislev
    • Lasts nine days with a different candle of the Menorah lit each night
    • Commemorates the Maccabeen Uprising in 165BCE
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Nativity Scene (creche)
    • Evolved in France during the Middle Ages
    • St. Francis of Assisi popularized the living nativity scene at Greccio, Italy, in 1223
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Stars
    • God swore to Abraham, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven.”
    • The Star of Bethlehem, Matthew 2:2, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Bells
    • Church bells have longed called people to worship
    • Bishop Paulinus of Nola may have begun this custom in 431 A.D.
    • In Holland bells were dedicated and baptized before their use
    • Bells symbolize communication with God
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Christmas Tree
    • The Germanic Paradise Tree
    • United the hope for coming green and an end to winter with a festival of lights
    • Celebrated the feast of Adam and Eve on December 24th. Apples and other fruits were placed on the branches of the tree
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Christmas Caroling
    • Old English “carolen” - to sing joyfully
    • Became popular in Italy under the influence of Francis of Assisi
    • The English introduced the custom of going from house to house
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • England 1558-1829
    • Because of an argument between Henry VIII and the Pope over divorce Catholics were not allowed to practice there faith in England.
    • A song was written to help children remember the teachings of the church.
    • It used the days from Christmas day Dec. 25th to the Epiphany of the Lord Jan. 6th

Name that tune!

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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas 1558

My true love - God the Father in Heaven

Partridge in a pear tree - Jesus Christ the Son of God

2 Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testament

3 French Hens - Faith Hope and Charity

4 Calling Birds - The writers of the Four Gospels

5 Golden rings - The Pentateuch

6 Geese a-laying - the six days of creation

7 swans a-swimming - The seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit

8 Maids a milking - The eight Beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing - The fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords a-leaping - The Ten Commandments

11 Pipers Piping - The eleven faithful Apostles

12 Drummers Drumming - The 12 points of the Apostle’s Creed

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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Mistletoe
    • Considered a sacred plant by the Druids in England because of its healing powers
    • It became a symbol of Christ and his healing powers
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Holly
    • Originated in northern Europe
    • “Holy tree” Became associated with Mary’s burning love for Jesus
    • The red berries and prickly points became symbolic of the crown of thorns
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Pointsettia
    • A scarlet leaved plant from Mexico referred to as “flower of the Holy Night”
    • It blooms each year at Christmas time
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Christmas Cards
    • First designed and used in England in 1843
    • Originally were classical religious art emphasizing Jesus’ birth
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Christmas Pageants
    • In the earliest church acting out plays of the Nativity story was common place
    • It arrived in the United States with German immigrants
    • Today nativity scenes and pageants in public places have been challenged in courts as violations of separation between church and state
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Exchanging Gifts
    • We receive the gift of God’s Son and so we exchange gifts
    • Gifts were exchanged during the Roman festival of Saturnalia which occurred about the same time
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Kriss Kringle
    • At a time when the Christmas season was totally religious children were told the Christ Child brought them presents
    • “Christ Kinder” in German is Christ Child
    • The Pennsylvania Dutch as their language was lost deteriorated the pronunciation to Kriss Kringle
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • Santa Claus (Sinter Klaus)
    • St. Nicholas Bishop of Myrna in Turkey
    • After the protestant reformation protestants no longer venerated Saints
    • Catholics and Dutch continued to exchange gifts on December 6th
    • Protestant children became very jealous so churches developed a character combining Father Christmas, the mythical god Thor and St. Nicholas. They moved the celebration to December 24th
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SYMBOLS of CHRISTMAS
  • The Candy Cane 1800s
    • A candy maker in Indiana wanted to express the meaning of Christmas using several symbols of Christ’s love and sacrifice
    • The color white symbolizes the sinless and pure nature of Jesus
    • The three thin red stripes symbolize the Trinity
    • The thick stripe symbolizes the pain inflicted on Jesus by the cross
    • It is in the shape of the staff of Christ the Good Shepherd
    • Upside down it is the letter J for Jesus