Saturday, December 18, 2010

Round Robin Challenge: Symbols

In Christmas season is where we could find plenty of symbols.  I love symbols and by knowing them makes me appreciate them. With the access of internet it's so easy to do the research the history of a certain symbol and it;s meaning. Here are some of my Christmas symbols that I found inside our house.
                                                                    Christmas Nativity

The Christmas crib was first popularized by St Francis of Assisi, who set up a simple manger scene at the little town of Greccio in Italy in 1224. It included a real manger and straw, a live ox and an ass, and local villagers who took the parts of Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds. The ceremony proved so popular it was repeated each year.
Christmas Tree
People often wonder where the custom of having a tree in the home during Christmas time comes from. We will probably never know for sure. But there are many historical clues that point out where this custom came from.
Thousands or years ago, there were people who believed that evergreen trees were magical. Even in winter, when all the other trees and were brown and bare, the evergreen tree stayed strong and green. People saw the evergreen as a symbol of life and as a sure sign that sunshine and spring would soon return. Candles, or the electric lights we use to decorate our trees today, are also an ancient symbol. They represent the light of spring overcoming the darkness of winter.
So when did the Christmas tree go indoors? Legend has it that the tradition was begun by Martin Luther in Germany. He was a monk and church reformer who lived from 1483 to 1546. According to the legend, Luther was returning home one wintry night when he saw the stars twinkling in the sky through the tree branches. Luther was amazed by the sight, and when he arrived home, he was eager to tell his family about it. To help them understand, he went to the woods and cut down a small fir tree. Luther brought it indoors and decorated it with candles, which represented the stars he had seen.
The custom spread in Germany, and from there all over the world. In England, the Christmas tree first appeared when Queen Victoria married Albert, a German Prince. In 1841, Albert set up a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle near London to remind him of his homeland. The Christmas tree custom was brought to the United States by people from England as well as by many German immigrants who came in the 1800's. Whatever its origin, the Christmas tree is a beautiful symbol for everyone who celebrates Christmas.

                                                                       Advent Wreath       
           Sorry bout my advent wreath one of the 3 King's lost his head ^_^. Had to find it and glue it again!!

    Various customs are associated with Advent. One that still survives in parts of Europe, notably in Germany, is the hanging of Advent wreaths. These are rings made up of sprigs of evergreens such as holly and ivy, into which are fixed four red candles. They are hung from the middle of the ceiling and on each Sunday of Advent one candle is lit so that by Christmas all four are burning. In Britain in Victorian times, the Christmas pudding had to be made before Advent commenced. This was always on Stir-up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent, when the pudding was solemnly stirred in an anti-clockwise direction by every member of the household before it was boiled (with silver charms or coins hidden in it) for several hours, then left to mature until Christmas Day.      
                                                                 Christmas Fairy/Angel         
The fairy at the top of the Christmas tree was originally a little figure of the baby Jesus. In late seventeenth century Germany this became a shining angel. Windsor Castle's Christmas trees were topped by a large angel.
In Victorian Britain, little girls would take the angel down after Christmas and dress him in dolls' clothes. Eventually the angel turned into a thoroughly female fairy, complete with wand.
The transformation was boosted by the pantomimes that became popular in the Victorian era - and, naturally, included a good fairy in the cast.
                                                                        Santa Claus       
The real Santa Claus was Saint Nicholas a fourth century Bishop in Turkey. Famous for acts of kindness, especially towards children, he eventually became popular in Holland, where he was known as "Sinter Klaas". Around 1870, the Americans turned the name into Santa Claus.
In nineteenth century Britain the Elizabethan character Father Christmas - the jolly old man imagined to provide the Christmas feast - merged with Santa.
Up to 1890, he was sometimes depicted as tall and thin, wearing green or brown as often as red. Santa's present appearance was created by Swedish artist Jenny Nystrom in a series of Christmas cards. Fellow Swede Haddon Sundblom helped universalise the new image when he adopted Nystrom's ideas for Coca-Cola's advertising campaign - Santa matched Coke's red-and-white logo. Sundblom also refined the character, making his body a little fatter and giving him his herd of flying reindeer.
The idea of Santa Claus entering people's homes by dropping down the chimney comes from American Scholar Clement Moore's famous 1822 poem A Visit from St Nicholas.

                                                                   Christmas Stockings

The tradition comes from a Christmas story of St Nicholas. In the 1800's, when the father of three young maidens could not afford a dowry for his daughters to be married. From his castle, St Nicholas heard of the poor misfortune of the maidens and secretly threw a bag of coins down their chimney. It is said that the gold coins landed in the girls stockings that were hanging in the fireplace to dry.
Later children in Holland would leave out their wooden shoes in hopes that St Nicholas would fill them with goodies.
                                                                    Christmas Cards

Sir Henry Cole, a publisher and innovator who founded London's Victoria & Albert museum and was influential in setting up the Royal College of Music, the Albert Hall and public lavatories, sent out the first Christmas card in 1843. But the cards, at first handmade and very expensive at a shilling each did not become popular until later in the century.
                                                              Christmas Wreath
Christmas wreaths combine two symbols of everlasting life. The evergreen bough, that stays green all winter and a continuous unbroken circular shape.
            There are still so many Christmas symbols but  that is what I've got for now. Thanks for coming!
                                             Linking this post to Round Robin Challenge                                                         


jyothisethu said...

nice pictures...
apt for the season...

happy x'mas...

Monica said...

Wonderful symbols of the holiday season. =)

Karen Funk Blocher said...

What a comprehensive entry! That's a very different advent wreath from what I'm used to, almost a combination of wreath and creche. Interesting! And don;t forget Thomas Nast's contribution to Santa's image. I used to have wrapping paper made up of his many Santa illustrations. Sometimes he was in green or blue, and sometimes tiny like an elf, but he was already recognizable as Santa with his white fur-trimmed clothing, white beard and round tummy. Great entry!

hahai.ponce said...

love this post...very Christmassy...Merry Christmas to you and your family...

Ayman Khlifat said...

very amazing blog , really you have a great ideas... hope you share me on my blog :

best regards

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