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Symbols of Christmas are seen wherever we go this time of year.

 

Here are the stories behind a few of the symbols:

 

The Christmas wreath symbolizes eternal hope, it goes round and round. It has no beginning or end, and is woven of things that grow to symbolize life.

 

Tinsel on the tree comes from an ancient story about a widow with many children to care for. They cut a tree in the forest, but there was no money for decorations. Her only income was from baking for the townspeople. She and her children made snowflakes from scraps of paper they had saved and trimmed it the best they could with what they had. During the night, as they slept, spiders visited the tree, crawling from branch to branch. As they left their shimmering webs behind, an angel came and changed all of the spider webs into shining silver.

 

Over 500 years ago, Martin Luther, a German leader of the Protestant Reformation, began the custom of decorating Christmas trees. He was walking through the woods one beautiful starry night on Christmas Eve and saw a large evergreen tree in the glow of starlight. He thought it was such a beautiful sight, and it reminded him of the night the angels appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem, announcing the birth of the Christ Child. He cut down a small pine tree and brought it home. He decorated it with lighted candles to represent Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. From this small beginning, the custom of decorating trees spread around the world. A family Christmas tree is more than a decoration. It is full of memories and shines forth as a symbol of God’s love for us.

 

The custom of the Christmas stocking was started because of St. Nicholas. His parents had died when he was very young and left him a fortune, which he spent mainly for needy people. One day, he heard of three daughters of a poor nobleman. After their mother died, in his grief, the father lost everything, even his castle. He and his daughters had to move to a shabby peasant cottage. Since he could not provide a dowry for them, it looked like they would be sold as slaves. Nicholas heard of their situation and rode to their home that night and tossed three bags of gold in the window. They landed in the daughters stockings, which were hung by the fire to dry. With the dowries provided by Nicholas, the girls married and lived happily ever after. Putting out stockings reminds us to have a giving heart and take care of the poor and needy as St. Nicholas did.

 

Symbols of Christmas help to create memories: Toy trains and electronic gadgets get broken, and some of the finest gifts end up in garage sales, but the tapestry of memories woven from family traditions, helping others, being with friends and holiday fun, last a lifetime. By simple hospitality, generosity, and spending time with those who need it most, we can find the real meaning of Christmas.

 

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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