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The Many Meanings of Christmas

Everything happens for a reason. Yes, cliche but it is crystal clear. Things just did not happen by accident- especially Christmas. Thnakfully, through the encyclopedias online we are no longer in the dark. They help shed light on the matter. Once you see them again you would remember their meaning and have Christmas wisdom.

Pagan mythology loves the reindeer and during the Middle Ages (when Pagans converted to Christianity), their ancient customs became a part of Christmas celebrations. The reindeer came to symbolise creativity, resourcefulness and knowledge, while also representing safe journeying and endurance through travels.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a fictional reindeer created by Robert L. May. Rudolph is usually depicted as the ninth and youngest of Santa Claus’s reindeer, using his luminous red nose to lead the reindeer team and guide Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. Though he initially receives ridicule for his nose as a fawn, the brightness of his nose is so powerful that it illuminates the team’s path through harsh winter weather. Ronald D. Lankford, Jr., described Rudolph’s story as “the fantasy story made to order for American children: each child has the need to express and receive approval for his or her individuality and/or special qualities. The other reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

A parol is from the Spanish word farol, meaning lantern. It is a Filipino ornament displayed during the Christmas season. Parols are traditionally constructed using bamboo and Japanese paper, and are illuminated with candles, oil lamps, or carbide lamps. Modern parols can be made using other materials such as plastic, metal, and capiz shells and are usually illuminated with electric lighting. Its most-common form is a five-pointed star.

The modern Christmas tree originated in Germany, where families set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the Eucharistic host, the Christian sign of redemption). In 1419, a guild in Freiburg put up a tree decorated with apples, flour-paste wafers, tinsel and gingerbread.

The Belen or (Nativity Scene) is of Spanish origin which means Bethlehem. It is a tableau representing the nativity scene or the birth of Jesus Christ. “Belen” was introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish Franciscans during the colonial period. Usually, it is a manger surrounded by the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the shepherds, their flock, the Three Kings and some animals and angels. It can be seen in homes and public places.

Christmas bells rung at the time of Christ’s birth. Christmas Eve services often start at midnight signaled by the ringing of the church bells. When we hear, “Hark the herald angels sing. glory to the newborn king…” These so-called “Christmas angels” carried the message of Jesus’ arrival. They had an important role in the nativity story.

Candles have religious significance in many cultures, and they are often used in winter ceremonies and rituals as worship offerings. In some countries in Scandinavia, during the feast of St. Lucia a girl is crowned with candles. Pine cones can symbolize secrecy, as they are closed. However, they also symbolize the unity of a blood or a chosen family. In addition, pine cones are a sign of hope and represent immortality.

The poinsettia is a typical Christmas plant. In homes everywhere, especially in Northern America, it is a part of Christmas trimmings. The red leaves signify luck and fortune to the dwellers. The vivid-colored-plant is seen as a symbol of Christian devotion. Christmas balls represent apples hanging on the branches of sacred trees to beckon the return of Nature’s spirits and fertility of the Earth.

The Advent wreath is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western church. It is an evergreen wreath with four candles, sometimes with a fifth, white candle in the center. Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, the lighting of a candle can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers. An additional candle is lit on each subsequent Sunday until, by the last Sunday of Advent, all four candles are lit. Some Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The custom originated in family settings but has also become widespread in churches. (Sources: Wikipedia, etc. Available upon request)

It is always good to know the significance of an occasion. It becomes all the more meaningful. They add value to life. Commercialism is avoided. Now that Christmas is one of the most celebrated Season in the world, it is continuously spreading and bearing fruits. So that there is depth and clarity, it is best to study the Faith and to do a timely soul searching. Amid the turmoil and chaos, a Savior came in the world, our Infant Jesus. He is Peace. Especially now that wars are happening, we pray to Him for peace.


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