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WORLD | Dec 15, 2021

Christmas symbols, what do they mean?

Ategie Edwards

Ategie Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s December! And you know what that means, the time for Christmas is here and yet again and as we count down, Christmas decorations go up.

Mistletoe, bells, stars, lights and candy canes can be seen all around, but do we really know the meaning behind them?

Let us take a look at a few Christmas symbols and their meanings:

Traditional Colours


This colour represents the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of man. It is reflected in the colour of holly berries, which also had pagan symbolism during the winter solstice celebrations in ancient Rome. Red can be found on candy canes, lights, poinsettias, wreaths and bells.


The colour green signifies everlasting life. Green is also a representation that winter will not last forever and spring will come thereafter. Like with the colour red, lights, poinsettias, wreaths and bells can also be found in green. The Evergreen Tree, the mistletoe and garlands are also usually green in colour.



Bells not only proclaim the arrival of the Christmas season, but the announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also said the ringing of the bell acts as a guide to bring lost sheep back to the fold. Bells are sometimes found on trees and the doors of people’s homes.


This leathery-leaved parasitic plant grows on broadleaf trees such as apple and oak trees. The parasitic plant has been known to symbolise love which is why we often see actors in movies kissing ‘underneath the mistletoe’. Mistletoes are usually placed on doors or they hang on horizontal walls attached to the ceilings.


The star is usually the last ornament placed on a Christmas tree. One of the most recognized symbols for the Christmas holiday, the star symbolizes the star that appeared in the night sky when Jesus was born. The star alerted the three wise men of Jesus’ birth and led them to the manger.

Candy Cane

During the days of Jesus, shepherds were very prevalent and usually had a wooden staff shaped like candy canes. Jesus Christ has often been referred to as the ‘Good Shepherd’. The white on the candy cane represents purity while the red represents the blood of Jesus. Candy canes are usually sold in stores or hung on Christmas Tress or above fireplaces.


Christmas lights are very popular and widely used for décor during the season. They can be seen on trees and on different parts of buildings for example on railings. These colourful ornaments represent Jesus who is often dubbed ‘the light of the world.’ The lights are also said to suggest, that like Jesus, people can be a light to others.

Wreaths and Evergreen Trees

The circular shape of the wreath represents never-ending love and the colour green as aforementioned speaks to eternal life. It is said that in today’s world the wreath signifies family gathering, generosity and giving. The famous Christmas Tree or Evergreen Tree is said to represent the birth and resurrection of Jesus. The branches and shrubs symbolise the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross. Wreaths are usually found on the doors of homes and stores while evergreen trees are found in homes, in Town Squares and in stores.


Originating in Mexico, these flowers like the Evergreen Tree thrive during the winter. It symbolises new life and takes the shape of a star which is connected to the star that the wise men followed on the night of Jesus’ birth. These flowers are sometimes placed on Christmas Trees and on wreaths.


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