H. Scott Seal


H. Scott Seal is the managing editor of the Portageville Missourian-News and has over 30 years of newspapering experience.


Ornaments of Christian Symbols Used by Many Churches to Keep The Meaning of Christmas in Focus

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christian churches strive to keep the meaning of Christmas uppermost in the minds of people during the holidays. Many churches have turned to using decorations of Christian symbols for Christmas trees standing in church sanctuaries.

The Christian Christmas Tree uses ornaments which relate to some element of the Bible, Christ or to Christian history. Of course, angels and crosses are used but other ornaments with Christian significance are:

Wheat. It is a symbol of the bread of life from Mark 12:22.

Doves. Doves symbolize peace and forgiveness.

Scrolls. These represent the first five books of the Old Testament.

Lamb. The lamb stands for Jesus as the Lamb of God. If the lamb is holding a banner it represents the victory over death.

A 12-pointed star. This star stands for the 12 Disciples and the 12 tribe of Israel.

Grapes. They stand for the drink of the Holy Communion.

The Ark. It is a symbol of the flood and of the church as a refuge.

Camel. This represents the Magi who came to visit the Christ child.

Musical Notes. They stand for praise and worship.

Candles or lights. These bring to mind John 8:12, "I am the light of the world."

The Chrismon Tree is decorated with symbols which stand only for Christ. The only colors used are white and gold. If the Chrismon Tree has lights, they are always white. White stands for the holiness of Christ and gold is for the royalty of Christ as the King of Kings.

The word "Chrismon" is a combination of the words "Christ" and "monogram." That means that all the ornaments on a Chrismon Tree must be symbols of Christ. Many of the symbols can be traced back to the earliest Christians. These were the symbols they used for jewelry and utensils. The symbols can also be found on the walls of the catacombs in Rome.

These symbols are now most often carved from thin white foam such as meat or pastry trays, white cardboard or white felt. The symbols are decorated only in gold. Materials most often used include glitter, braid, cord, yard, sequins, beads, rickrack or foil. White glue is used to attach the decoration to the symbol.

The most common Chrismons are, of course, the cross, the crown and the fish. But there are other symbols used which are less well known. These include:

The Anchor Cross which shows a cross on a crescent moon, which is the symbol for Mary.

The Cross Triumphant which is a cross standing on the diameter of a circle.

Stars can have different numbers of points. The five-pointed star stands for the Epiphany. The seven-pointed star stands for the Gifts of the Spirit; and the eight-pointed star for the Holy Baptism.

The Daisy stands for the innocence of the Christ Child.

The Lily-of-the-Valley stands for the humility of Jesus as a man.

The Serpent on a Tau Cross stands for the bronze serpent on the staff by which the Lord saved Israel.

The Rose represents the Nativity of the Lord, His human birth and his human mother.

The Circle shows the eternal love of God and the eternal life in Heaven.

Chi Rho stands for the first two letters of Christ when written in Greek.

IHS are the first three letters in the name Jesus when written in Greek.

A cornerstone which shows Jesus at the Chief Cornerstone of the faith.

The Triangle stands for the Holy Trinity.

The butterfly represents the resurrection.

Iota Chi are the first two letters of Jesus Christ when written in Greek.

A book opened showing two pages with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega show the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and represent Christ's statement, "I am the beginning and the end."