Dec 6, 2008

18 days Til Christmas -

and my bedroom was transformed into Santa's Workshop this morning -
Align CenterI put on some old Wintry/Christmassy movies and got all the presents that have arrived wrapped.

Packages are ready to be shipped out
& the tree looks perfect!


After I had gotten all the presents done, KM started asking about the different symbols and where they come from - I knew a lot of them, but there were a few that I was surprised by. I went in search of and found last years December issue of Pagan Moonbeams written by TristA & Shannon Donaldson. It had a great list of traditional symbols and explanations of where they derived from.

Here is the article's list:

Bells–
Pagan. Bells were used to drive away demons which surfaced during the dark time of the year.
Candles–
Pagan. Candles were lit to encourage the sun to shine, especially during festivals.
Candy Cane–
Christian. Peppermint leaves and teas are Pagan, however the candy cane was invented by an American confectioner using a Christian symbol.
Carols–
Christian. Carols were introduced in the fourth century by the Catholic Church.
Elves–
Pagan. The Norse land of Alfaheimr (land of the elves) was inhabited by spirits that created the sun.
Evergreens–
Pagan. There is evidence of different Pagan groups throughout history decorating evergreens.
Gingerbread–
Christian. The Crusaders started this tradition by introducing ginger, and gingerbread. French and German bakers united to make the gingerbread into a man.
Holly–
Pagan. Holly began as a symbol of rebirth and friendship for many different Pagan religions.
Lights–
Pagan. For many centuries homes were decorated with light to frighten negative entities and urge the sun to shine.
Mistletoe– Pagan. Believed to first be used by the Greeks during winter ceremonies. The Druids are the ones who gave it sacredness and special meaning.
Ornaments–
Pagan. Fruits, candy, cookies and flowers were all used to decorate trees by the Germanic people.
Poinsettia–
Christian. An old Mexican myth of a poor boy wanting to buy Christ a gift for Christmas made this magical flower appear.
Reindeer–
Pagan. These magical creatures were derived from the Goddess Freya Stags that carried her chariot or symbolizing Cernunnos, a Celtic god.
Santa Claus–
Pagan. Either from the Norse sun-god or the Aryan god Odin.
Sleigh–
Pagan. Definitely from the Norse god Freya who spent 12 days after the Winter Solstice in her chariot drawn by stags. She gave gifts and goodwill to the good and misery to the bad.
Snowflakes–
Pagan. These represent Demeter’s tears when Persephone descended to the Underworld. The symbol was also used by Pagans throughout time to represent love.
Stockings– Christian. They fall back to a story of women who were worried about living a lone and of St. Nick leaving presents in them one night when their windows and doors were locked.
Tinsel–
Christian. A story of spiders wanting to climb on the tree and not being permitted so the Christ child allowed them to go on the tree anyway. They wove webs that covered the tree which delighted the child and he turned them to silver so they would always be there.
Tree–
Pagan. Decorating a tree began back with the Egyptians and Babylonians. Decorating a tree during this particular holiday came from a version of this practice used by the Germans, who got it from the Romans.
Wassail–
Pagan. The Anglo-Saxons started this ritual by sprinkling trees with eggs, apples, cider and ale to insure a good apple yield for the coming year.
Wreath–
Pagan. The Greeks picked the circle because it was a symbol of life (death, rebirth, death, rebirth, etc…), like the sun in the Pagan religions, then covered it with greenery and used it for decoration during their Sacacea festival.


If you know where any other Holiday symbols come from please let me know, I would love to add to the list!
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