The Holy Trinity of Christmas Symbols: the Tree, the Star, and the Nativity Scene

It is said that the three symbols that are popularly associated with Christmas are the tree, the snowman and Santa Claus. However, the original symbols might not be what you think!

In fact, the tree, the snowman and Santa Claus are more modern interpretations of traditional symbols. The traditional, heavily Christian symbols of Christmas are actually the tree, the star and the nativity scene. 

Over time, the modern versions have grown in popularity. Because nowadays, you don’t have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas! Above all, the holiday spirit of giving should be the centerpiece, and this crosses all geographical, political and cultural boundaries. 

This guide to traditional Christmas symbols will dive into their origins and true meanings. Furthermore, we’ll see how they resonate with the millions of people around the world and across time who come together to celebrate each other and the close of the year.

What does the Christmas tree represent?

The Christmas tree is a symbol of Jesus’s birth. The tree is typically an evergreen tree that retains its leaves throughout the year. Furthermore, the color green represents hope and life. Sometimes, people put lights on their trees to signify Jesus being the light of the world. In addition, the tree can symbolize the evergreen bush from which Jesus was born in some cultures, or it can be a symbol of immortality or rebirth.

What does the Christmas star represent?

The Christmas star certainly has a more Christian theme compared to other symbols mentioned in this list. The star is used to represent the Bethlehem star in the Nativity story that revealed the birth of Jesus and led the three Wise Men to his birthplace. Therefore, it represents hope, guidance, and revelation. The Christmas star has been a common symbol for centuries, and it was first introduced into popular thought by Julius Caesar Scaliger in the 1500s.

What does the nativity scene represent?

The nativity scene is made up of various objects, which include the infant Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the three Wise Men and an assortment of animals. The first nativity scene could have been created as early as the 3rd century.

The nativity scene is a Christian tradition that depicts the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. It is typically set up in homes or churches around Christmas time to celebrate this religious event.

The purpose of the nativity scene is to retell this story for Christians to remember and reflect on it every year during the holiday season.

The scene is meant to portray warmth, sacredness and joy. Both Christian and non-Christian homes can equally relate to this as the family comes together during the holiday season. 

How about the modern Christmas symbols?

The modern Christmas symbols that we’re most familiar with are the tree, the snowman and Santa Claus. As the world progresses, these are the symbols that are most accessible to a general audience and they resonate with us just as much as the traditional symbols did for earlier generations. 

What does the snowman represent?

The snowman is a symbol of winter and the coldness of the season. The single carrot nose and black eyes represent how we feel at this time of the year. In other words, we feel cold! In addition, these bits and bobs are likely to be found lying around in any household. There’s no need to go out and buy any expensive toys in order to join the Christmas cheer. Keeping in mind the chill, most of the time, snowmen will have a warm scarf and a hat to keep them nice and toasty. Just like how we like to be wrapped up warm during winter. Furthermore, in some cultures, snowmen can also represent a snow maiden who takes care of abandoned children.

While we all dream about warmer days, for now we can also enjoy our time celebrating Christmas with our loved ones, drinking hot cocoa by the light of a soft fire, and listening to carols on Christmas Eve.

What does Santa Claus represent?

There are 3 major schools of thought on the origins of the plump, chuckling man we know as Santa Claus.

1.) The Dutch-New York Theory

Saint Nicholas was an Episcopal bishop, born in 270 AD and died in 343 AD. He was known as a kind and generous man, who would give gifts to the poor and children, which he delivered secretly by leaving them in their shoes or else down chimneys. It is said that St.Nicholas gave away his inherited wealth in order to travel the countryside to help the less fortunate. 

2.) The Turkish Theory

St. Nicholas is the Turkish version of St. Nikolaos of Myra, a Christian saint who lived in Turkey during the 4th century AD. It is said that St. Nikolaos used to give gifts to children without their parents knowing, which is where Santa’s secret identity comes from

3.) The Nordic Theory

St.Nicholas is a creation of Old Norse mythology and emerged from the land of the Vikings. He’s actually a reimagining of Odin who would bring gifts during midwinter Yule by soaring through the skies on his flying eight-legged white horse, Sleipnir. Children would fill their boots with straw for Sleipnir, and set them by the hearth. Odin would slip down chimneys and fire holes, leaving his gifts behind.

Regardless of which theory you believe, the legend of Santa Claus is one of enormous generosity and kindness. Over the course of many years, Santa Claus’ popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. 

FInally, Santa Claus can be seen as an angel bringing gifts from heaven to people on earth. While for others, it reminds us that our loved ones, right here on earth, are the real-life angels who are thankful for our presence in their lives every day. 

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Christmas symbols

Christmas is all about symbolism! From Santa Claus to the tree to the nativity scene, these symbols are an important reminder of what Christmas is all about. As the world changes, the symbols will continue evolving to keep the holiday meaningful to as many people as possible. 

The holiday season offers a time for reconnecting with those we care about and for giving back to those in need. It reminds us that everything we do now will affect the future generations who will eventually come into this world after us–and that can be a very powerful thing indeed. 

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