Posted by: mikebackup | December 10, 2010

Christmas has been stolen – time to get it back!

In trying to find the true meaning of Christmas, we soon realise that Christmas has been stolen! It has been stolen off Christ. The most familiar things we see at Christmas have a special Christian message, but that message has been stolen by the shops and television and people just think they are ‘things’ we see at Christmas. We have to get them back and by doing that we can find out some really interesting facts and provide some new ideas that will help us all remember and practice their true meaning.

You can also look dead clever at parties and when you get together with family. When you can say something really interesting about something people see all the time, most people go ‘aah, that’s really interesting’!

(This information is referenced from BMS Face magazine)

1 Tree

Origins: In the German town of Geismar, St Boniface cut down a tree dedicated to the Norse god of Thor and used a fir tree to say, “Let Christ be at the centre of your households”.

Christian symbolism: It points towards heaven. The triangular shape represents the trinity, the continuous green represented everlasting hope. It can also represent the Tree of Life.

Why not…Instead of baubles, write prayers for others on paper or card and hang those on your tree. Don’t buy a tree, decorate one already in your garden.

2 Crackers

Origins: Invented by Tom Smith of London in 1847, developing them from his bon-bon sweets, which he sold in a twist of paper. The bang was inspired by a log crackling on the fire.

Christian symbolism: Cracker party hats symbolise the Wise Men’s crowns.

Why not…Make your own crackers, with personalised messages/Bible scriptures inside.

3 Christingles

Origins: Not confirmed, but might have been started by a German bishop in 1747 or in the Czech Republic, when a poor family scooped out a mouldy orange, and used a candle and other items they found, as a gift.

Christian symbolism: The orange is the world. The candle represents Jesus, the light of the world. The red ribbon is a symbol of Jesus’ blood. The fruit and nuts or sweets represent the fruits of the earth.

Why not…Have a communal session making of Christingles, involving adults and children. Use Fairtrade products.

4 Presents

Origins: In Ancient Rome, on or around the Winter Solstice, high ranking officials had to give gifts to the Emperor. St Nicholas was remembered for his charitable giving – on his feast day parents would leave small gifts of chocolate or fruit for their children.

Christian symbolism: They remind us of the presents given by the Wise Men for Jesus’ birth.

Why not…Buy from charity shops or give something you own. Make your own wrapping paper. Give gifts to a local charity or family in need.

5 Advent calendars

Origins: The German Lutherans began counting down the 24 days of Advent physically from as early as the beginning of the 19th century. Often this meant simply drawing a chalk line on the door each day.

Christian symbolism: Advent means coming and prepares us for Jesus’ birth.

Why not… Make your own, or if doing chocolate ones, choose Fairtrade products!

6 Mistletoe

Origins: Kissing under the mistletoe was probably an early Pagan marriage ritual. Scandinavians regarded mistletoe as a peace plant.

Christian symbolism: Its evergreen leaves and association with kissing is a symbol of Christian love and eternal life.

Why not…Don’t buy it; pick or grow it. Forget the kisses – give it to someone you need to make peace with and use the opportunity to reconcile your differences.

7 Mince pies

Origins: They were originally filled with meat, then contained spices and dried fruit to help preserve the commonplace meat. King Henry V was served a mincemeat pie at his coronation in 1413. Oliver Cromwell banned them.

Christian symbolism: They were first made in an oval shape to represent the manger that Jesus slept in as a baby, with the top representing his swaddling clothes.

Why not…Make and deliver them to a local old people’s home, or around doors in the local neighbourhood.

8 Cards

Origins: In the 18th century, British children sent Christmas messages to their family on paper decorated with a border. The first Christmas card was designed in 1843 and commissioned by Sir Henry Cole to send to all his friends.

Christian symbolism: Many Christmas cards include scenes of the nativity, stars and doves.

Why not…Think of alternatives – send personal messages or e-cards. Take time to deliver cards personally rather than by post or through letterboxes. The younger ones could do as 18th century children did.

9 Carols

Origins: The first specifically Christmas hymns appeared in fourth century Rome. Christmas carols in English first appeared in a 1426 work of john Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists 25 “caroles of Cristemas”, probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’, who went from house to house.

Christian symbolism: The first ‘nativity-based’ carol was written in 1410 about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem.

Why not…Have a go at writing a new carol! Take your carol singing outside church – to the pub, hospital or youth centre.

10 Wreaths

Origins: Wreaths were used by many societies for different reasons, including Romans who wore them as crowns. It is possible that wreaths won in contests were put on display, similar to trophies today. The Advent wreath is German in origin and contains four candles.

Christian symbolism: Evergreen plants in a continuous circle symbolise everlasting hope and life.

Why not…Go on a winter walk to collect flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs and then make homemade wreaths in whatever shape you would like and give them out to people in the community.

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