Well, people talk about 12 symbols of Christmas. I just gave a thought as to what they are for me. They may not be the traditional symbols, but the ones that I have experienced and learnt through my life – and helps me feel that Christmas is in the air! So, I thought I will share my 12 symbols of Christmas.
Christmas bells are quite popular for several different reasons – one of those being wading out the evil spirits and bringing the good vibes in. “Jingle bells”, one of the most popular Christmas songs talks about cheerful sound of bells ringing, bringing a new season in. It is still a practice in many cultures where they ring the church bells in villages whenever anything significant happens, reminiscing the bells that rung during the birth of Jesus – a way by which the cultures and traditions blend in.
Christmas wreaths are said to signify the eternal life which has no beginning and no end. Hanging the Christmas wreath on the door is considered as essential as setting up a Christmas tree.
Interestingly, TIME magazine says that Christmas wreaths were actually made to prevent throwing away of the branches of evergreen trees which were pruned to grow them into the shape of Christmas trees.
In the midst of an abundance of artificial plastic wreaths, here’s my try to create a live wreath with a rattan base, Murraya jasmine and some red begonia flowers.
Rich fruit cake.
The memories of celebrations from my childhood has the taste and smell of rich fruit colloquially called plum cakes. Growing up in tropical Kerala, I wasn’t sure what plum tasted like. Not much of a cooking buff, I never bothered to know more about the ingredients of the plum cake either. Honestly, I was never a fan of plum cake!
Hence, I was the happiest when plum cakes gave way to cakes with royal icing. I still remember my Pappa bringing home cakes with amazingly sweet icing on it which pretty much disappeared in the blink of an eye after being cut!
As butter icing became trendier, the stiff icing was all forgotten, and life started revolving around the smooth and soft icing which melts in the mouth!
And since then, ganache, whipped cream icing, ice cream cakes have all found their way into my stomach.
Slowly, as every bit if sugar eaten started depositing underneath my skin, I realised that it’s time to ditch the icing and munch on the real cakes! And I started experimenting with baking different kinds of cakes too – like tea cakes, upside down cakes, moist cakes, and what not. And slowly realised that the citrusy cakes are my absolute favourites.
Still the plum cakes were not in my bucket list to make, as I thought there’s nothing interesting about a plum cake aka fruit cake. Until I chanced upon a recipe during a Christmas and I was so impressed with the amount of fruits that go into it. And the taste and smell that a homemade plum cake brings home! Awww…
Ever since, I have started a little tradition at our home, of making a fruit cake every Christmas. And especially after a tough 2020, we were so looking forward to opening the packs of all those glacé fruits (like Christmas tree, something that reminds us of the beginning of the season of hope) to macerate with a bit of alcohol and some fruit juice. And as all those sultanas, currants, raisins, dry ginger, citrus peels, and glacé cherries were mixed together in some wine and fruit juice and set to soak today, it certainly is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!
We know what Santa and elves do, however nutcrackers have always puzzled me as to why these mannequins that resemble soldiers become part of the Christmas decorations.
Apparently, these become part of the Christmas symbols following a German folklore where these are given to bring luck to the families, and protect their homes – a symbol of strength. The nutckraker’s is a classic Christmas story too, loosely based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
No doubt that this is something that fancy every sweet tooth’s imagination when the Christmas season arrives! Beyond how this sugar treat entices people, some people consider that it has that shape because it is Jesus’ ‘J’ done upside down.
But as with everything else, it has a lovely legend associated with it too – that candy cane dates back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany handed out sugar sticks among his young singers to keep them quiet during the ceremony.
No denying that candy canes would keep anyone quiet!
Anyone’s guess, as it symbolises the star that showed way for the three wise men that came to visit baby Jesus.
I live in Sydney which is hot during Christmas, but we still decorate with snowflakes as Christmas ornaments. I was not sure of it initially, but then realised that because every snowflake is unique, it is used as a symbol of one’s individuality.
Apparently, the snowflakes’ delicate and short-lived nature can represent the fleeting nature of life.
Easiest thing that brings in the spirit of decoration into the living rooms, this is everyone’s favourite. The tinsel tradition is said to have come from the Eurpean countries. The legend is that when the children of a poor family who didn’t have any money to decorate the Christmas tree went to sleep on Christmas eve, a spider spun cobwebs on the tree. On Christmas day, it turned into silver and gold strands that wrapped the tree!
How fascinating is that the tinsel was originally made from thin strips of beaten silver!!
I am not a big fan of tinsels on the trees, but just love how it can turn an ordinary setting into a sparkly one, so I do use it at random places.
They usually are hung right in front of fireplaces, and here’s my hessian and cloth stocking hung on our window as we own a fireplace-less home.
One thought that has torn kids for centuries is whether Santa is real or not. You might find it funny, but it’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to keep believing that someone will visit you once in an year with surprise presents for all the good deeds you have done. ( I want to believe in Santa too ). The moment he realised Santa is not real, I have seen my elder son shocked. He wished so much he didn’t know it, once he knew it from someone, and he’d do anything to keep that secret away from his little bother.
So, the belief is that while the presents are from family, Santa is the one that fills the stockings with small toys or fruits and nuts. It’s not even filled until the Christmas Eve, and it’s part of the evening fun to stuff the stockings after the kids are asleep!
An interesting thing is that the tradition came into being after St Nicholas left some gold in a poor family’s stockings hung by the fireplace to dry!
We never know – some things that we do today without knowing, may even become a tradition tomorrow!
What are the different Christmas ornaments you use on the Christmas tree?
Bells, baubles, fairy lights, bows and so forth. However, one of the Christmas ornaments that fascinated me most is a dove with a bleeding heart. Why would a dove adorn a Xmas tree?
Initially I thought it is someone’s fancy that resulted in a dove being placed on the tree. But very interesting that this has a religious symbolism to it.
As the wound on Christ (made by a soldier who plunged his spear) bled, a dove from the heavens brushed against the wound. Jesus’ blood stained the feathers in the dove’s breast; and these doves started holding a special place on our Chirstmas trees ever since!
And here’s my little sustainable dove that is made out of hessian, which just landed in my hands from a shelf while randomly checking out some Christmas decor in a shop. Been in love with this little thingy ever since!
Green and red colours.
I always wonder how synonymous these colours have become to Christmas, it reminds us of this season wherever and whenever we see it. Christmas trees, Santas’ robes, mistletoe, holly leaves, girt wraps, Christmas ornaments – all of these reinforce these colours every year in our minds and brains alike.
Beyond these icons of Christmas that are deep rooted within us, do these colours have any other significance?
Here’s how its explained religiously – red represents blood shed of Jesus during crucifixion, and green represents the eternal life of Jesus, like the evergreen trees stay green in winter.
Interesting fact is that the person that confirmed red and green for Christmas colours has nothing to do with religion though! Haddon Sundblom is his name, and he is the person hired by Cocoa Cola to draw their ads – and the jolly Santa that he drew in red robe that stand against the green fir trees and holly became embossed in our minds.
Strange are the ways of world – indeed.
Life has indeed changed a lot this year!
Quite close to where we live, there used to be a Christmas light display of 7000 – 12,000 fairy lights at a private home. A winner of Australia wide Christmas displays for around 5 years, this home brightened up the Christmas scene for a lot of families without fail every year. An interesting memory is that of the ice cream trucks that frequented the street catering to the little kids who came to enjoy these lights.
Our family was no different – we had developed a tradition of going there every year and there was something new that captured our imagination with every passing year.
As it happened with a lot of other things, this display had to cease too this year, to make sure people stay distanced. But as we drove past the house today, a few minimal lights and a little sign served as a beautiful memory of a brilliant past!
They have indeed saved those lights for a brighter future.