This year for the Advent Blogs, I would like to go back to the Christmas traditions. As I said a few years ago, I understand some people do not like Christmas traditions because they say the traditions come from pagan roots. I like the Traditions because when they were started they pointed people to Christ; we have just lost these ideas. That is why I want to let you know how they point to Christ and give their meaning back to us so we can use them to celebrate Christ.
The first tradition I would like to talk about is red and green being the traditional colors of Christmas. The green represents evergreen or everlasting life. This idea came from the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is made from an evergreen tree and Martin Luther himself is quoted as saying the evergreen represents the ever-lasting life we receive when we accept Christ. The red represents the blood that Christ shed to save us.
Romans 5:9 (King James Version)
9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
I love this idea because it points to the most important things about Christ in that he came to die (the red or blood) so that we can have everlasting life (the green).
The colors red and green have led to other Christmas Traditions, for example, poinsettias. Originally, poinsettias were a weed in Mexico. In fact, one book I have read says it “was an imposing weed that had taken over the country side.” It was not until a man named Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, the first American minister to Mexico, saw the plants potential. He saw that the red flower looked like the crimson blood of Christ and the green stock like the evergreen for everlasting life. He used the plant as a teaching tool. Later he brought the plant back to America and it became popular under the name of poinsettia in honor of Dr. Poinsett.
Another very interesting tradition is the wreath. Again, it is red and green. The green was made with holly leaves and the red came from the red berries on the holly sprigs. The wreath was to represent the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head before His crucifixion. The earlier church said that the crown of thorns that Christ wore had holly mixed in. Later Christians did not to like focus in on death at Christmas time so they said the wreath represented the crown of glory we will receive in heaven.
2 Timothy 4:8 (King James Version)
8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
The early Christians used the wreath as sign that the household was a Christian home just as we have heard they used the ichthus. Another very interesting thing is they would leave the wreaths up a long time, usually from Christmas to Easter. They said the berries would change color from red to white. This is again from the Bible.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Now you can see why I love these old Christmas traditions, they are full of Christian symbolism that we have lost in our secular world today.