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Christmas Symbols And Their Traditional Meaning Christmas Symbols And Their Traditional Meaning

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Christmas Symbols And Their Traditional Meaning

Written by: Daniel Gallik

Reviewed by:

Peter Smith
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Reviewed by
Peter Smith

Peter Smith, Editorial Director at Christian.net, combines deep insights into faith, politics, and culture to lead content creation that resonates widely. Awarded for his contributions to religious discourse, he previously headed a major organization for religious communicators, enhancing dialogue on faith's societal impacts.

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Many Christmas symbols surround Christianity's history & relate to biblical stories. Here are what your favorite Christmas symbols & decorations mean

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Every year, we make sure Christmas symbols are in their perfect place. These symbols and ornaments have become part of our Christmas celebrations. Imagine the Christmas season and Christmas symbols appearing one by one. These Christmas symbols more than likely, are ornaments, wrapped presents, food, the Christmas tree, and more.

Every year, meaningful Christmas symbols fill the Yuletide season. Through the years of celebrating this big occasion, however, most of us forget why we use these decorations. What most people don’t know is that each of these Christmas symbols has a Christian implication. It is important to recognize their meanings so we can look at these symbols in a greater context and meaningful manner.

We decorate our home with these Christmas symbols to magnify the reason for the celebration and not the celebration itself.


Christmas gift on red box

Photo by freestocks.org

One of the highlights of Christmas eve is giving and exchanging of gifts. Christmas symbols are not complete without this significant Christmas symbol. This is shown in the story of the birth of Jesus in the New Testament.  The Three Wise Men (Matthew 2:1 – 12) unreservedly honored the birth of Jesus by offering their precious gifts inspired the gift of giving. These wise men offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. From this story, a meaningful tradition and Christmas symbol is born.

Although the concept of giving was from this story, gifts will always remind us of the best and greatest gift that we have received, Jesus. His nativity is the ultimate gift to the world. From John 3:16, it tells us that God loved the world so much that He willingly and lovingly gave His Son that we may have eternal life. Gifts should remind us that we can only give because we are given. It is the symbol of God’s unconditional love and compassion.

Candles And Christmas Lights

Red candle

Photo by Nubia Navarro

Before Christmas lights were used, candles are lit to be the light in Christmas trees. It symbolizes the light of the world who is Jesus. He came down into the darkness that the people may find the light. In John 8:12, Jesus declared that He is the Light of the World, and whoever follows Him will never again walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

Candles also represent the star of Bethlehem when Jesus was born. This bright light guided the three Wise men on their journey to find the child, Jesus. Born two thousand years ago, today we have the same Light who will guide us in our journey in this life. Unknown to many, this fact is one of the earliest Christmas symbols. Also, lighting candles is a tradition in many religions surrounding the birth and life of Jesus. However, candles on the tree today have been replaced by electrical lights and many think lights are just to brighten their Christmas decorations.

Of the many bright Christmas symbols, the main light known to all is placed on the top of the tree; the star. This Christmas symbol represents the star that guided the Wise Men to Jesus in Bethlehem. However, you may think that not all families have the tradition of placing stars at the top of the tree. Instead, some households place an angel on top of the tree instead of a star.  But this doesn’t change the facts surrounding Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The angel on top of the tree symbolizes the angel who announced Christ’s birth.


Christmas symbols add festivity to the celebration and Christmas bells are traditionally part of the nativity. There are various depictions of what the bells as a Christmas symbol represent. First, it can be seen as the symbol of the joy and jubilation brought by the birth of our Savior.  Second, the ringing of Christmas bells symbolizes the proclamation of the yuletide season. It signals the good news that was born in the world. Lastly, this Christmas symbol signifies the love of the Shepherd to all His sheep. The ringing of bells by the shepherd signals the ushering of lost sheep back to its home. Christmas bells call us to go back to our Shepherd and celebrate his birth.

Candy Canes

Two candy canes

Photo by Brigitte Tohm

This toothsome treat displays several important Christmas symbols with just this sweetmeat. Its shape represents a shepherd’s staff and shepherds care for the sheep. Jesus is referred to as the Good Shepherd in John 10:11. He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep so they may have life and have it to the full. Jesus stepped down into the world to guide the lost sheep back to the Father.

The color red and white of the candy canes symbolize Jesus’ blood and purity, referencing to his birth, life, death, and resurrection. He who is righteous died for the unrighteous. It is His blood who became the atonement for our sins. This Christmas symbol reminds us of the birth of the Shepherd who loved and saved his sheep.

Colors Red and Green

Different colors of Christmas symbols in the Bible have relevant meanings. For many Christians, the color of Christmas is green and red. Green, the color of Evergreen trees and our Christmas trees, signifies the eternal life that we have because of the sacrifice of Christ. Red, on the other hand, is the color of holly berries which represents the blood Jesus shed for us. Holly shrubs represent immortality and is the symbol of the crown of thorns worn by Christ when he was crucified.

Evergreen Christmas Trees

One of the most notable Christmas symbols representing eternal life and unyielding hope is the Evergreen Christmas Tree. Evergreen Trees are known to stay green all year round. It can keep its thistles on its branches even in the winter season when all other trees lose their leaves. It reminds us of the hope that we have in Jesus that will never fail in great trials and winters of our lives.

The tradition of putting up Christmas trees in ones’ home sprouts form this Christmas symbol of evergreen trees. From green Christmas trees, it evolves into colorful and decorative ornaments. The tree became a Christmas symbol during the 11th century as people regarded it as the tree of Paradise from the garden of Eden, and people decorated it with red apples. However, decades later, Martin Luther of the Lutheran Church decorated the evergreen tree with candles in honor of Christ’s birth. From that year, many have followed this tradition. With this being said,  the custom of decorating a Christmas tree was actually further established in the 18th century in France, Austria, and Germany.



Photo by Irina Iriser from pexels.com

Wreaths are amazing ornaments that are a combination of various Christmas symbols. These symbols include holly berries, mistletoe, tinsels and evergreens. Its circular shape is a symbolism of the eternity set in our hearts, the eternal life that we have in Christ and the eternal being of Him. These Christmas symbols also show the unending and undying love of God. Its green color signifies strength while the holly represents perpetuity. In the present period, wreaths are usually used as a symbol of giving and gathering during the holiday season.

Christmas Bows

Bows in gifts and decorations symbolize unity and peace among people and nations. This Christmas symbol reminds us of the bond that we have in love. Gifts are wrapped around with ribbons to show how people should be tied together as one. During the holiday season, we are to celebrate the love that came into this world with peace and unity. Just as how Jesus wrapped the entire world in His arms with abundant love, we are to be unified in love.


Angels appeared to people in the various events in the Scripture. God sent angels to warn, give important messages or proclaim the truth about God. To put it simply, they are God’s messengers. An angel appeared in Joseph’s dream informing him of who Mary was carrying. Angels also appeared to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields. So, during the Christmas season, angels represent the proclamation of the birth of Jesus.

All the Christmas symbols have an important meaning, but they all have one thing in common. Each Christmas symbol points to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The saddest part of a celebration is forgetting what you are celebrating. It is a futile enjoyment and pointless vigor to rejoice without knowing why.

Hopefully, the next time you wrap or unwrap your gifts, decorate your Christmas trees or hang wreaths on your doors, you will contemplate the grace and love it took so you can use these Christmas symbols.

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