Holiday Symbols

Where do the symbols of the Christmas holiday come from?

Connor Davis, Columnist

It’s that time of year again, where you see lights everywhere and can’t throw a rock without hitting some holiday symbol, but where did they all come from? 

Let’s start with a beloved Christmas treat, candy canes. According to History, candy canes were first invented in 1847. Why Christmas says that they were called candy canes because of their unique shape, and first began to be associated with Christmas in 1874. They are associated with the holiday because of their iconic shape, which was made in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, based after the shepherds who visited Jesus Christ on the night of his birth.

Next is another symbol related to Christianity, the yule log. A yule log is a log that is chosen to be burned in a hearth or fireplace for the smell or traditional value. Many times the log is an oak tree. Originally, burning yule logs was a Nordic tradition originating in Scandinavia before the spread of Christianity meant for the Yule Festivals held in Nordic countries, Germany, and other Western European countries. The Yule Festivals were celebrated for the Winter Solstice where they would burn a pyre of the famous logs and would light each pyre with the remains of last year’s. However, this became a symbol of Christmas when Christians saw this and decided that yule logs could be used as candles to guide holy angels and Christ.

Finally, one of everybody’s favorite Christmas traditions. Presents! The tradition of giving presents to people is based on the original story of Jesus’ birth when the three wise men brought Jesus presents when he was born. Saint Nicholas recognized this and was famous for giving to those who needed it. After he died, his legend grew, and his commercialized name, Santa Claus, actually comes from Saint Nicholas’ Dutch name; Sinter Klaas. In total, most Christmas traditions have Christian origins based on the story of Christ’s birth.