Every year we decorate our homes for Christmas. Christmas tree, lights, garlands, balls, stars, candles, wreaths, bells, and mistletoe. These are just some of the decorations. And perhaps the most important. But do we know what they symbolize? We have heard about some of them; for others, we can hardly guess what message they carry. We at The Dope Lists searched for the hidden meaning of 10 of the most iconic Christmas toys.
The story of the Christmas canes is actually quite funny. In 1670, the choirmaster of Cologne Cathedral wondered how to shut the mouths of noisy children so that they would not disturb him during the Christmas Eve liturgy. He used the children’s weakness for sweets and ordered a local pastry chef to create a new treat. It took the form of an inverted shepherd’s staff and the Latin letter ‘J’, coming from the name of the Son of God (Jesus Christ). The red color of the delicacy symbolizes the blood of Christ, and the white – his innocence.
Some people say that when Eve plucked the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, its leaves withered and turned into spruce. Others claim that after being expelled from the Garden of Eden, Adam brought Earth a branch of the tree of good and evil from which the Christmas tree grew. And according to a third, the cross on which Christ was crucified was made of coniferous wood. Which of the statements is true, it cannot be said. But the evergreen color of the tree symbolizes the hope of the people, and the sharp tip – the direction of human thought, directed to the heights.
The Christmas tree looks somehow unfinished if a star does not shine on top of it. Many families even have a tradition of the star being placed by the youngest child. The star is the heavenly sign of God’s promise to give the world a Savior. It is reminiscent of the one that the three wise men observed during the birth of Jesus Christ. In some parts of the world, the holiday celebration begins only after the appearance of the first star on Christmas Eve.
The main symbols of all pagan winter holidays are light and fire. The heat that the fire radiates drives away the cold and evil spirits. Christmas candles depict Jesus as the light of the whole world. The candle lights up our path, brings clarity to our lives, and it is a symbol of the victory of light over darkness and the sun that will illuminate the Earth again the next day. It is also associated with the transience of human life, the rapidly passing years, and our deceased loved ones.
The traditional Christmas wreath comes from the Lutheran Church. It is made of evergreen coniferous twigs and four candles. The first candle is lit on the Sunday four weeks before Christmas. One candle is lit every following Sunday. On the last Sunday before Christmas, everyone should be burned to light the place where the wreath is. It symbolizes the continuous circle of true love. The greenberry references the prickly crown of Christ – a symbol of immortality, and the red fruit – the shed blood.
A shepherd fell asleep while grazing the flock, but suddenly a piercing light appeared and woke him up. When he heard the angels’ song, his fear disappeared, and he saw crowds of people walking in one direction and carrying gifts. The Son of God was born. The shepherd left with the crowd but was sad that only he had no gift. As he walked, he felt a stabbing pain in his feet. He bent down and saw green twigs. The shepherd took them and left them to the baby. Then he saw that the thorns of the bush wounded his hands, and suddenly the drops of blood turned into red fruits.
When Jesus was born, people from near and far went to Bethlehem to offer gifts to the Savior. A little blind boy standing by the road could not find his way and begged every passer-by to take him. Unfortunately, no one responded to his request. But when the streets were deserted, the boy heard a faint ringing of bells. He decided that the sound came from the animals’ bells in the barn where Jesus was born and began to follow the jingle. The longer it went, the louder the bells rang. It wasn’t long before he reached the barn, and his wish came true. That is why the bells symbolize the people’s returning faith and hope that good will prevail.
It seems that the birth of Jesus and the search for a suitable gift from all who wanted to see him gave rise to many traditions and hidden symbolism in Christmas toys. The thought tormented a poor street artist that he had nothing to give the baby. Then he realized that the gift might not be material but a performance. He carried a few balls with him and began juggling in front of the baby. The baby cheered and began to laugh. The colored balls are reminiscent of Jesus’ laughter. Over time, the decorations become multicolored, but the primary colors of Christmas are red, green, white, and gold. Red is the color of December and symbolizes fire and blood, and green – the hope of eternal life. White symbolizes purity and innocence, and gold – of sunlight.
In recent years, garlands have seemed to give way to other Christmas toys. Many families prefer to decorate each branch of the Christmas tree with a ball, bell, or another figurine. The first garlands appeared in Europe to fill the empty spaces of the Christmas tree and create more coziness. But where did the idea come from? It is believed that when the angels blessed the Christmas tree from the room’s ceiling hung strange cobwebs. Then Jesus waved his hand, and they turned into beautiful gold and silver garlands. They symbolize beauty, purity, peace, love, and passion.
The brave bird
A bird made a nest in the mistletoe branches. Unlike the others, it did not fly to warmer countries at the end of the summer. However, the winter turned out to be very cold and severe. The bird managed to survive, but when it heard the news of the birth of the son of God, it gathered strength and flew to him to ask him to keep the mistletoe leaves to survive the winter. One of the angels not only fulfilled the bird’s wish but also made sure that the mistletoe fruits would not fall so that it would have something to eat. It is believed that this is why mistletoe is one of the few plants that preserves its leaves and fruits during the cold months.
Have you started to think that everything around you has a mysteriously hidden meaning? Don’t worry, so do we. And since, like most people, we have a tradition of adding a new toy to the Christmas tree every year, in 12 months, we will learn the hidden meaning of another new toy. Do it yourself. It sounds like a sweet Christmas tradition, don’t you think?!
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