Christmas Symbols Explored

Christmas Day is celebrated on the 25th of December each year signifying the birth of Jesus Christ. The word is derived from ‘Christes Masse’, which means ’Christ’s mass’. Christmas is associated with many of the unique customs and symbols that are widespread in many countries. Every symbol has its own story to tell regarding its origins and how it has evolved over time. Here is the list of the ten most popular Christmas symbols round the world with their meanings.


Holly is a shrub with spiny leaves and red berries that stays green in winter and keep the earth beautiful. Druids once believed that its greenness was a promise that the sun would return soon. Early French and English families hung holly over their doors to signify a home where Christ’s birth is celebrated. Holly in Christianity is also a reminder of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion.


The Christmas star is associated with the spirit of Christmas signifying hope, sacrifice and love for all mankind. A legend exist that star of Bethlehem guided the Three Wiseman to Baby Jesus. Eventually, an angel or a star was placed atop the Christmas Trees to rejoice Jesus’ birth.

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree with its evergreen leaves is promise of spring to come and the everlasting life. The Christmas tree was in earlier days decorated by the pagans to mark the end of the winter solstice to signify that the winder would end soon. The pagan celebration of the Saturnalia was replaced with Christmas on Dec. 25th. The tradition of decorating a Christmas tree began in Germany.


This beautiful red, star shaped flower is called the ‘Flame Leaf’ in Central America or ‘flower of the Holy Night’. Due of its flame leaf, the poinsettia is called the Christmas Star. Poinsettia is a type of weed that grows wild in the country of Mexico. There are many legends that are associated with this star-like flower but the most common story is about Maria and her brother Pablo.


From the early times, mistletoe is considered one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants. This evergreen plant is hung on the Christians doors to ward off evil spirits and witches. The Greeks also thought that it has some mystical powers and down through many centuries it has become associated with many folklore customs.

Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas was a 4th century kind bishop who brought presents to children and needy people. He was noted for his generosity and kindness to children and the poor. The transformation of Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus occurred mainly in America. Traditionally, St. Nicholas was pictured as a bearded man in bishop’s robes. The modern Santa Claus arose during the 19th century as a jolly, bearded, red-suited man.

The Bell

The bell marks the announcement of the coming of holy Jesus Christ. It still rings today at all the churches on the Christmas Eve. There is a legend that bells ring out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in Jesus or God’s eyes.

The Wreath

Wreath is a symbol of the immeasurable eternal value of love… having no end. Its round shape symbolizes that just like love, it has no end and never stops. Many Christians place four candles on a wreath, and each candle is lit every Sunday before Christmas in anticipation of the Christ’s birthday.

The Candy Cane

The candy cane embodies the shape of the shepherd’s crook, which is used to bring lost lambs back to the fold. The colors of the candy cane are red and while – red is for the blood shed by Jesus Christ, white for His purity.


Reindeer has come to be associated with Christmas as the animal chosen by St. Nicholas to pull his sleigh. Santa’s reindeers’ were named Prancer, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen, Donner, Comet, Cupid, and Blitzen, and Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer, the most famous one.

These are the ten most popular Christmas symbols with their meanings associated with it. Christmas is not just the most awaited festival of the Christian people but it can be very imaginative too if you understand each of these different symbols or icons representing its true meaning.

Christmas Gift? Name a Star!