A Note from the Editors:
The traditional colors of Christmas are red and green. One belief is that
red represents the blood that Jesus shed during his Crucifixion and green
symbolizes the Christian belief of eternal life through Christ and the
continuance of life through winter. These colors are reflected in many decorations used during the holidays - Christmas tree
and wreath, holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, and rosemary.
The custom of hanging the Christmas wreath is believed to have started with
the ancient Romans. The evergreen was a symbol of the
strength of life overcoming the brutality of winter. People placed
decorative wreaths of evergreen on their doors as a symbol of victory and
celebration. Now people appreciate wreaths made from live evergreens not only for their festive appearance but for their pine aroma.
Holly is an evergreen tree with red berries and needlelike pointy leaves.
Holly was believed by the Christians and Romans to have protective powers
and was used as a charm through out the house, which has become popularized
as part of the Christmas song "Deck the halls with boughs of holly."
Christians associate the sharp pointy leaves with the crown of thorns
worn by Jesus and the red berries represent the drops of blood he shed
during the Crucifixion.
Mistletoe is also an evergreen plant but it has white berries and dark
glossy leaves. The current custom of kissing under the mistletoe started in
Scandinavian mythology. Balder, son of the Norse goddess of love, Frigga,
was killed by an arrow of mistletoe. Frigga swore that mistletoe would never
again be a source of death and should promote love - anyone caught standing
beneath the plant should receive a kiss. The correct etiquette today is that a
man should pluck a berry when he kisses a woman under the mistletoe and when
the last berry is gone there should be no more kissing. Mistletoe is poisonous if eaten so make sure it is out or reach of small children.
Rosemary is an herb often associated with remembrance, fidelity and friendship.
The most popular legend connecting it to Christmas claims that the
original flowers of rosemary where white but changed to blue when during her
flight from Egypt Mary threw her cloak over a bush changing the bush's color
and giving it a unique fragrance. A similar legend says that during the
Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, Mary stopped by a stream to wash baby Jesus's
clothes and laid the clothes to dry on a fragrant bush. For this service God
rewarded the bush with little blue flowers that same color as Mary’s robe
and named the plant rosemary.
Printing Pages from ILW.COM
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