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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Even More Christmas Traditions

Christmas wreaths
A circle symbolizes continuance - it never ends. It also reminds us of the never ending love of God. Christmas wreaths are traditionally circles made with evergreens, which symbolize life. They are often decorated with other natural plant parts, such as pine cones and holly berries.
As the Christmas wreath tradition has become more commercialized, all kinds of decorated wreaths can be found, some with no evergreens in them at all.

(Medieval Latin, from Latin Christus + Late Latin monogramma.) Christ Monogram. A type of Christmas Tree decoration used in many churches and often in the homes of Christians.

The symbols used in the decorations represent Christ, Christianity, or a variety of biblical and theological concepts. Crowns, crosses, doves, butterflies and stars are a few examples of a Chrismon design. If the ornaments on a Christmas tree are comprised mostly of such Christian symbols, the tree is known as a "Chrismon Tree." Most Chrismons are white with gold decorations of beads, ribbon, glitter, etc. White is the liturgical color for Christmas and suggests purity and joy. Gold is a color for kings and represents the glory and majesty of God.
The symbols themselves date back to the early Christian church. Early Christians were not very good artists. In fact, they were afraid to allow any kind of art that could possibly encourage anyone to worship "graven images" of any kind. But as the church grew, leaders found that art was needed to help give it a sense of identity. Also, art helped people who couldn't read or write to understand certain Christian ideas and principles.
Throughout all the controversy surrounding the use of art in the church, symbols seemed to be somehow different from "art", so they were accepted.

Mrs. Frances Spencer, a member of the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, began making her own Christmas tree decorations and eventually became a professional tree decorator. In 1957 she was asked to decorate the tree at her church. Wanting to make the tree decorations special in order to reflect the tradition of her faith, she began to use these early Christian symbols. Thus the "Chrismon Tree" was born.
Since 1957, her ideas have been published in several books (she assigned the copyrights to the name "Chrismon" to her church). One stipulation is that Chrismons may never be sold for profit, which explains why you don't find Chrismons in stores. Patterns for making Chrismons are for sale, though.


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