Summary: Tomorrow's the big day! We'll be diving into the mountain of presents and experiencing our moments of glee. The idea of giving gifts on Christmas originated with the wise men presenting gifts to Jesus. Today we'll look at what those gifts represented.
Tomorrow's the big day! We'll be diving into the mountain of presents and ripping and tearing and experiencing our moments of glee. The idea of giving gifts on Christmas originated with the wise men presenting gifts to Jesus. Today we'll look at what those gifts were and what they represented and see how we can give those same gifts to Jesus today.
1) Christmas legends.
Last week I shared the history behind some of our Christmas traditions. I shared the pagan roots behind the Christmas tree, the Yule log and mistletoe. Then I shared the history of the real St. Nicholas and how that transitioned into Santa Claus.
I want to start out today by sharing the legends behind some other Christmas staples. Candy cane. The candy cane had its beginnings in the 1600s when a candy maker and choirmaster gave the candy to anxious children during services. At this time it was just a white peppermint stick. The cane as we know it didn't evolve for another 200 years when a candy maker in Indiana introduced the red stripes and cane shape. He wanted to make a candy that could be a witness during the holiday season.
The white represented the virgin birth and the sinless nature of Jesus. You'll notice some candy canes have thin red stripes along with the thicker red ones. The thinner stripes represented the scourging he endured while the thicker ones symbolized the blood he shed for our sins. The shape of the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook, symbolizing Jesus as the great shepherd. Turn it upside down and you have the letter "J" the first letter in Jesus.
Wreath. The Christian symbolism behind the wreath is: since the circle has no beginning and no end, it represents God's love for us, which has no beginning and no end. God loves us through thick and thin, regardless of what daily challenges we happen to be struggling through.
The holly branches have red berries and thorns. The thorns represent the crown of thorns Jesus wore while the berries represent the blood Jesus shed for us when he was crucified. Evergreens are used in the Christmas wreath and live through winter, which shows the strength of life. And the fact that that the evergreen stays green all year round represents the hope we all need to live as joyously as possible.
The last legend has the modern meaning of receiving gifts. Each line of the song The 12 days of Christmas starts with the person's true love giving a gift on successive days arriving at the total of 12 days. However, the original meaning of this song has a spiritual history behind it. This song had its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith.
It was also known to be a coded song for the persecuted church to teach and sing spiritual principles without being detected. It's good to know this otherwise weird song will make more sense to you once you learn of its original meaning and intent. Each of the items in the song represents something of religious significance.
The "true love" represents God and the "me" who receives these presents is the Christian. The "partridge in a pear tree" was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God. The "two turtle doves" were the Old and New Testaments the gift of God's word. The "three French hens" were faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Cor. 13).
The "four calling birds" were the four Gospels which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ. The "five golden rings" were the first five books of the Bible also called the "Books of Moses". The "six geese a-laying" were the six days of creation. The "seven swans a swimming" were the "seven gifts of the Holy Spirit". (I Cor. 12, Rom. 12, Eph. 4, I Pet. 4).
The "eight maids a milking" were the eight beatitudes (Matt. 5). The "nine ladies dancing" were nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. (Gal. 5). The "ten lords a-leaping" were the Ten Commandments. The "eleven pipers piping" were the 11 faithful disciples. The "twelve drummers drumming" were the 12 points of the Apostles' Creed.
So, the next time you hear "The 12 Days of Christmas", consider how this otherwise non-religious song had its origins in the Christian faith. Knowing the deeper meaning behind this song helps us to better appreciate all the wonderful gifts our "true love" gave to us.
2) Giving wise gifts to Jesus.
The wise men gave some special gifts to Jesus. Let's take a look at what they gave him and how we can spiritually give those gifts to Jesus today.