Christmastide Overview page for more
on the symbols of Christmas
that are spoken of on this page and that are used throughout the Season until
Christ is born in Bethlehem, alleluia! The mood of this Feast is summed up
by words of the angels to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-14:
And the angel said
to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that
shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who
is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you.
You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising
God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of
Messias is born, and His Nativity is filled with Mystery. Did you know that
"Bethlehem" means "House of Bread"? Yes, the Bread of Life, the Living Bread
from Heaven, was born in a town called "House of Bread" -- and, fortelling
His future as the Bread of Life Who feeds His sheep, was laid in a manger.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (a.k.a. Gregory of Neocaesarea), A.D. 213 - ca.
270, describes the significance of the manger in his Homily on the Annunciation:
In the board from
which cattle eat was laid the heavenly Bread, in order that He might provide
participation in spiritual sustenance for men who live like the beasts of
The Feast of the
Nativity (see this page for some
interesting information on the date of Christmas) is a most joyous one that
celebrates the incredible reality that the Second Person of the Trinity was
born of a Virgin so He could redeem us. "It was He, the Infant of days, that
could appease, O Lord, the Ancient of Days," wrote St. Ephraem the Syrian
and Doctor of the Church.
If Advent preparations
have been handled well, the house should be clean, work should be done, and
things should be fresh and ready for 12 days of rejoicing!
Once the sun goes down on Christmas Eve, the Yule log is lit in the
fireplace. Back when homes had great fireplaces, fires were lit on Christmas
Eve using logs so huge as to be able to burn for all the days of Christmas.
These Yule logs now tend to be much smaller, but the traditions surrounding
them remain: the fire on Christmas Eve should be lit using a piece of last
year's Yule Log which has been stored under the bed of the mistress of the
house, which folk belief says brings good fortune and prevents lightning
strikes to the home. In Provence, the Yule log is lit with great ceremony.
The Grandfather will pour sweet wine over it three times while saying:
Alègre! Alègre! Que nostre Segne nous alègre!
S’un autre an sian pas mai, moun Dieu fugen pas men!
Joy! Joy! Joy!
May God bring us joy!
And if, in the year to come, we are not more, let us not be less!
Then he and the
youngest child carry the log three times around the Christmas table before
taking it to the fireplace. Alas, fireplaces are less common than they once
were, but if you have no fireplace, a decorated log can be used as a centerpiece,
as is done in Italy where the log is known as a "ceppo."
While the Yule log burns, a candle is put in the window. This is an old Irish
custom stemming from the Protestant persecutions: the candle signalled to
priests that the home was a safe place for Mass to be offered, but when the
English asked questions, they were told that it was a symbolic invitation
to Joseph and Mary.
The Christ candle -- a large white candle decorated with holly and such --
is lit for Christmas Eve Supper, replacing the
Advent wreath. It is re-lit each night
until the Epiphany to represent Christ's Light and in order to help guide
the Magi to the manger. 1 The greenery
of the Advent wreath itself is now decorated and hanged on the front door,
remaining there throughout the Christmas season.
Christmas Eve (before
the Vigil Mass) is a day of fasting and abstinence. The 1983 Code of Canon
Law eliminated this fast altogether, but traditional Catholics still keep
the fast, eating seafood (the Italians eat fish -- often seven of them!),
noodles, other forms of pasta, etc. for the Christmas Eve Supper.
In any case, on both Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, special dinners
are served, some families beginning their Christmas Eve meals when a child
sees the first star of the evening in the Noel
sky. The table should be beautiful, with greenery and candles, especially
the Christ Candle. Some families set a place setting for those who've died
during the year or for those who are otherwise unable to attend, and then
set a lit candle on it to burn throughout the meal. An Eastern European tradition
is to use a white tablecoth to represent Christ's purity and His swaddling
clothes, and to place underneath it a bit of hay to recall where he was born.
In Provence, three white table cloths of different sizes are used, with the
smallest on top.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day foods vary from country to country, but Christmas
Eve dinners are meatless, while Christmas Day is the day of unrestricted
feasting, when Christmas candies, marzipan, oranges, apples, tangerines,
nuts, and the cookies baked during Advent are all laid out. From a German
tradition, the nuts are cracked open with a nutcracker (nussknacker) shaped
like a soldier. E. T. A. Hoffmann's Christmastime story, "The Mouse King,"
written in 1816, uses this type of nutcracker as a character, and since
Tchaikowsky wrote his famous "The Nutcracker" ballet based on this story,
both the nutcracker itself and the ballet have become seasonal favorites
(click to hear the ballet's "Dance
of the Sugar Plum Fairy").
On Christmas Eve, the Poles have a beautiful custom that recalls the
Eucharist: Oplatki ("oplatek" in the singular) -- very thin, crisp, large
rectangular breads with the consistency of Communion wafers and impressed
with religious designs -- are eaten on Christmas Eve (Wigilia) . They
are laid at the center of the table this night, on a bed of straw. Just before
supper, the father wishes all a holy Christmas and recalls those who've died
during the year and brings to memory Christmas Eve suppers past. He takes
an oplatek that's been blessed by a priest, and breaks off a piece to give
to his wife. He places it in her mouth with a blessing such as, "May the
Lord bless and keep you through this next year." The mother reciprocates
and then hands a piece to the person next to her and blesses him. That person
does the same to the one next to him, and so on, until all have received
and given a piece. If it is more than just the immediate family present,
the oldest person present will initiate by offering an Oplatek to another,
and the two break off a piece between them, passing the remainder on to the
next person. Oplatki are shared with the family's animals, too. So loved
is this tradition that Poles will mail small oplatki inside Christmas cards
to those who aren't present for Christmas Eve. Remaining pieces of oplatki
are given to animals to bless them, too (note: the "L" in the word for this
bread is pronounced as a "W")."
In Denmark and Norway, a Christmas Eve requirement is a rice pudding, sometimes
served with a raspberry or cherry sauce, and inside of which is a peeled
almond. The lucky person who finds the almond wins a marzipan pig!
The after-Midnight Mass time (see below) is known as "le réveillon"
(the "awakening") in France and French Canada. Foods from the Christmas Eve
Supper are served up, and, depending on the region of France or Canada,
crêpes, foie-gras, oysters, etc. are served, always ending with the
fanciful, Yule Log-shaped Bûche de Noel cake. In Provence, seven meatless
dishes are eaten for supper, and then, after Mass, thirteen desserts appear
on the table and remain there for three days.
On Christmas Day, the English prefer gingerbread, plum puddings, and
mincemeat pies. Mincemeat pies are baked in an oblong shape to recall Jesus'
crib. To them were added cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to symbolize the gifts
of the Magi. These pies were once made illegal by Puritan Oliver Cromwell,
Lord Chancellor of England, because it was considered a "popish" dish (their
loss!). An old bit of doggerel 2 that
describes the anti-Catholic animus:
The high-shoe lords
of Cromwell's making
Were not for dainties -- roasting, baking;
The chiefest food they found most good in,
Was rusty bacon and bag-pudding;
Plum-broth was popish, and mince-pie --
O that was flat idolatry!
Along with Christmas
Day Feast's "popish foods," the English serve Christmas Crackers -- not a
food, but a device invented
in 1844 by Thomas Smith. It is a tube filled with candy, trinkets,
jokes, and a party hat, all wrapped in colorful paper and broken open by
two people, one pulling and twisting at each end. A cracker is placed beside
each dinner plate at the Christmas table, and guests pick them up in their
right hand, cross their arms, and, with their free left hand, pull the cracker
of their neighbor to the right. When the cracker breaks open, a bang is produced
when two strips of cardboard treated with silver fulminate strike against
Italians have to have a wonderful Christmas bread called panettone; Germans
have their stollen (also crib-shaped, like mincemeat pies, and then "swaddled"
in powdered sugar); Americans tend to go for their grandmothers' recipes
from the "Old Country." See this page
for a few recipes for a classic Christmas.
-- and in all your feasting, don't forget God's other creatures! St. Francis
of Assisi preached that animals should be well fed on Christmas, too.
3 He said
If I could see
the Emperor, I would implore him to issue a general decree that all people
who are able to do so, shall throw grain and corn upon the streets, so that
on this great feast day the birds might have enough to eat, especially our
sisters, the larks.
Give your dog some
cheese and your kitty a little saucer of cream in honor of this great Saint
and the Christ Child!
It is believed
that Christ was born at midnight based on tradition and the time of the Passover
that preceded the Exodus from Egypt as recounted in Exodus 12:21-23, 29-31:
And Moses called
all the ancients of the children of Israel, and said to them: Go take a lamb
by your families, and sacrifice the Phase. And dip a bunch of hyssop in the
blood that is at the door, and sprinkle the transom of the door therewith,
and both the door cheeks: let none of you go out of the door of his house
till morning. For the Lord will pass through striking the Egyptians: and
when he shall see the blood on the transom, and on both the posts, he will
pass over the door of the house, and not suffer the destroyer to come into
your houses and to hurt you...
...And it came to pass at midnight, the Lord slew every firstborn in the
land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharao, who sat on his throne, unto
the firstborn of the captive woman that was in the prison, and all the firstborn
of cattle. And Pharao arose in the night, and all his servants, and all Egypt:
for there was not a house wherein there lay not one dead. And Pharao calling
Moses and Aaron, in the night, said: Arise and go forth from among my people,
you and the children of Israel: go, sacrifice to the Lord as you say.
-- and the words
of Wisdom 18:14-15 --
For while all things
were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy
almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror
into the midst of the land of destruction.
-- and a line from
the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:
And at midnight
there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet
So, as near to
Midnight as possible on Christmas Eve, or at least when it is dark and
"symbolically midnight," the official Proclamation of Christmas can be read
to begin Christmas as the Baby Jesus is laid in the manger and the Christmas
tree is lit (see below). Dom Gueranger describes the proclamation thus:
At the Office of
Prime, in cathedral chapters and monasteries, the announcement of tomorrow's
feast is made with unusual solemnity. The lector, who frequently is one of
the dignitaries of the choir, sings, to a magnificent chant, the following
lesson from the martyrology. All the assistants remain standing during it,
until the lector comes to the word Bethlehem, at which all genuflect, and
continue in that posture until all the glad tidings are told.
The Eighth of
the Calends of January
The year from the
creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth,
five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:
Anno a creatione
mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo
centesimo nonagesimo nono:
From the deluge,
the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:
A diluvio vero,
anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:
From the birth
of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:
A nativitate Abrahae,
anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:
From Moses and
the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five
hundred and ten:
A Moyse et egressu
populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:
From David's being
anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:
Ab unctione David
in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:
In the sixty-fifth
week according to the prophecy of Daniel:
quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:
In the one hundred
and ninety-fourth Olympiad:
From the building
of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:
Ab urbe Roma condita,
anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:
In the forty-second
year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:
Anno imperii Octaviani
Augusti quadragesimo secundo:
The whole world
being in peace:
toto urbe in pace
In the sixth age
of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father,
wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived
of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In
Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:
sexta mundi aetate,
Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu
suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem
decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:
THE NATIVITY OF
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH!
NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!
How beautiful it would be to follow up the Proclamation with Psalm 148,
Laudate Dominum de caelis:
Praise ye the
Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places. Praise ye him, all
his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, O sun and moon:
praise him, all ye stars and light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and
let all the waters that are above the heavens Praise the name of the Lord.
For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created. He
hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree,
and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and
all ye deeps: Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill his word:
Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars: Beasts and all cattle:
serpents and feathered fowls: Kings of the earth and all people: princes
and all judges of the earth: Young men and maidens: let the old with the
younger, praise the name of the Lord: For his name alone is exalted. The
praise of him is above heaven and earth: and he hath exalted the horn of
his people. A hymn to all his saints: to the children of Israel, a people
approaching to him. Alleluia.
Dominum de caelis: laudate eum in excelsis . Laudate eum omnes angeli eius
laudate eum omnes virtutes eius. Laudate eum sol et luna laudate eum omnes
stellae et lumen. Laudate eum caeli caelorum et aqua quae super caelum est.
Laudent nomen Domini quia ipse dixit et facta sunt ipse mandavit et creata
sunt statuit ea in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi praeceptum posuit et non
praeteribit. Laudate Dominum de terra dracones et omnes abyssi. Ignis grando
nix glacies spiritus procellarum quae faciunt verbum eius. Montes et omnes
colles ligna fructifera et omnes cedri : Bestiae et universa pecora serpentes
et volucres pinnatae. Reges terrae et omnes populi principes et omnes iudices
terrae : iuvenes et virgines senes cum iunioribus laudent nomen Domini :
quia exaltatum est nomen eius solius. Confessio eius super caelum et terram
et exaltabit cornu populi sui hymnus omnibus sanctis eius filiis Israhel
populo adpropinquanti sibi. Alleluia.
While these beautiful
words proclaim Christmas and praise God, the Christmas tree can be lit for
the first time. The Christmas tree
4 will remain, like other
Christmas decorations and symbols,
at least until the Epiphany or
its Octave, but more often, and more properly, until
Candlemas (February 2).
Some families decorate the tree
as a family; in others, the parents decorate the tree outside of the children's
sight, then darken the room, light candles and the tree's lights, play music,
burn incense, and otherwise set a glorious scene before they lead the children
into the room to enjoy the splendor, especially as close as possible to Midnight.
Some parents have one special ornament that they will put on the tree last,
hiding it so that the first child who finds it gets an extra present or
Of course, and
most importantly, Baby Jesus must arrive in
His crib this night! A ceremony is made of
enthroning Baby Jesus in the manger, with the youngest child given the honor
of placing the figurine in the manger as his siblings hold candles whose
light symbolize the Light of Christ. This is the perfect moment to
bring on the Christmas carols, starting
now with "Silent Night."
After you've lit the tree and candles, and have enthroned Baby Jesus, tell
your children how it is said that at midnight on Christmas Eve, animals fall
to their knees in adoration and speak in Latin praising God! It is said that
church bells can be heard ringing from the bottom of the sea, and that the
honeybees awaken to sing the 99th Psalm!
A psalm of praise.
Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Come
in before his presence with exceeding great joy. Know ye that the Lord he
is God: he made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep
of his pasture. Go ye into his gates with praise, into his courts with hymns:
and give glory to him. Praise ye his name: For the Lord is sweet, his mercy
endureth for ever, and his truth to generation and generation.
The earth's rivers
are said to turn to wine, her trees to blossom, and she lets loose of some
of her gems, too -- but one must have a totally pure heart to see and hear
these things! Shakespeare wrote in Act I Scene I of Hamlet about how malignant
spirits and witches are rendered harmless on Christmas Eve:
Some say that ever
'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, no witch has power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
So holy is Christmas
that folklore says that babies born today are considered especially blessed
and able to see spirits, and those who die at the holy hour of Midnight tonight
are said to enter straight into Heaven.
Mass is obligatory
on Christmas, and this can be fulfilled by going to any one of three
the already mentioned
Mass at Midnight, called the "Angels' Mass"
the Mass on Christmas
morning, called the "Shepherds' Mass"
the Mass on Christmas
day, called the "Mass of the Divine Word" or "Kings' Mass"
The Midnight Mass,
though, is the one most Catholics clamor to attend. If the family attends
the Midnight Mass, it might be a good idea to have the children take naps
after supper so they'll be alert for it and for the placing of Jesus in His
Crib, the lighting of the Christmas tree, etc.
Gift giving is
done differently by different Catholic households and in different (formerly)
Catholic countries. Some families present gifts on December 6, the Feast
of St. Nicholas Bishop of Myra after whom "Santa Claus" was partly modelled.
Many Catholics (such as Italian Catholics) present gifts on January 6, the
Feast of the Epiphany, in imitation of the Magi. And some exchange them on
Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Stories are told to children to explain
who brings the gifts, and they vary greatly around the world:
||La Befana (on
||the Three Kings
(on the Epiphany)
St.Nicholas (on St. Nicholas's Day)
be extremely careful with any stories they might want to tell their
children in this way. If it is done in a very obvious manner of pretending,
if it is done is such a way as to keep Christ the focus of the day, then
fine. But one must be careful not to let one's children confuse fantasy with
eternal Truth, to focus on the former more than the latter, or to get greedy.
One option is to give one small gift to the children on 6 December (in honor
of/"from" St. Nicholas/Santa Claus), another
larger one on 25 December (in honor of/"from" Baby Jesus or "Saint Nicholas/Santa
Claus"), and another small one on the Epiphany (in honor of/"from" the Magi
or La Befana). One benefit of doing this is that you can still give to your
children things they'd love to have, but Christmas won't be a deluge of
commercialism; another is that the Feast of
St. Nicholas and Twelfth Night (the Vigil
of the Epiphany) will be more memorable for them.
In any case, though, as said, if parents tell stories of mysterious
strangers who leave gifts, they really need to be careful not to conflate
them with the Truth; there should be a most definite difference in
the way these two things are spoken of, and of course, Christ should hold
first place in the celebrations, with any fairy tales a very distant second.
Parents shouldn't spoil their children too much either or allow them to become
overcome by a spirit of greed. Christmas in the Western world truly is becoming
seen as a secular day of merry-making and lust for material things; the holy
meaning of this wondrous day needs to be restored. Limiting the number of
gifts, limiting the prices of gifts, insisting only on homemade gifts, spreading
the gift-giving out over St. Nicholas's day, Christmas, and Twelfthnight
as mentioned above, etc., are some ways to defeat the intense
Christmas Day is spent with family, feasting, enjoying one another's company,
singing songs, playing games, telling stories...
and Poems for Christmastide
What is better
than being told a story? Below are links to the texts of a few classics you
might want to download and share with your children. They are in Microsoft
Word .doc format with a 1.6" left margin so they might be easily "hole-punched"
and put into a notebook:
Nativity Story according to St. Luke, Douay-Rheims version (1 page)
I include this for those of you who might not yet have a Douay-Rheims Bible.
Please be sure that your children are able to distinguish between Sacred
Scripture and some of those stories below that are not true!
on the Nativity (4 pages)
Excerpts from the beautiful words of St. Ephraem (d. A.D. 373)
When the Animals Talk (1 page)
by Rusty Calhoun. The legend -- found all over the world, from Scandinavia
to Brazil to Italy to Poland -- is that the animals spoke in human language
on the day Christ was born, and that even today, on Christmas Eve at the
stroke of midnight, you can hear them praising God with human voices. This
sweet little poem tells the tale.
the Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves (2 pages)
A cute little story to tell your children about why Christmas trees are green
even in Winter
Christmas Truce (2 pages)
The beautiful true story of the "Christmas Truce" that took place between
the German and British soldiers on the Western Front in World War I. To view
an animated page, with music, based on this story,
click here. The song you will hear is a
beautiful, old German version of Silent Night, recorded in 1910 by the Steidl
Christmas Carol (1 page)
by G. K. Chesterton. A brief poem with the final words, "And all the flowers
looked up at Him, And all the stars looked down." Lovely!
Little Match Girl (2 pages)
by Hans Christian Andersen
Gift of the Magi (5 pages)
by O. Henry
See also: The
footnote on the page about
the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen for an interesting legend positing a connection
between Mary's midwife and the Magdalen's ointment.
Note: 25 December is also one of the 4 English "Quarter Days," days which
fall around the Equinoxes or Solstices and mark the beginnings of new natural
seasons (i.e., Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) and which were used in medieval
times to mark "quarters" for legal purposes, such as settling debts. The
other days like this are: Lady Day (the Feast of the Annunciation) on March
25, the Feast of St. John on June 24, and Michaelmas on September 29.
An unscented candle can be scented by burning it a while, and then adding
a few drops of fragrance oil (not essential oil, which is rather volatile)
to the melted wax. For your Christ Candle during the 12 Days of Christmas,
why not try cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and/or cedar and other pines?
From R. Chambers's "The Book of Days" (1869)
Some families decorate trees outside with foods that will keep the birds
happy. Hang garlands made of strung popcorn, cranberries, raisins, other
dried fruits, orange halves, etc., and decorate further with suet balls or
other items treated with suet. You can make such suet treats by mixing together
warm, melted suet fat, bacon grease, or lard with corn meal, oat meal, raisins
and other dried fruits, chopped nuts, 1-2 T. peanut butter, sunflower seeds,
etc. Dip pine cones into the mixture, or let cool, form into balls, wrap
up in mesh, and let harden.
4 Tips for Christmas trees:
if time is an issue,
you could always put the tree up earlier than Christmas, get the lights
on it, but save the ornaments and tinsel and the turning on
of the lights 'til Christmas Eve at midnight. Or if wanting to decorate it
outside the children's presence for lighting at Midnight, the tree can be
fully decorated in a separate room, or kept covered by a screen or sheet,
etc., until the time of the unveiling.
to keep real trees
green and help them retain their needles, keep them away from heat sources
and keep as cool as possible. Add sugar to the tree's water, and check the
water a few times a day, replenishing as needed. To make artificial trees
smell good, put about a teaspoon of pine or cedar essential oils into 4 ounces
of distilled water inside a spray bottle and mist. Hang pomanders with the
same scents from the branches.
Test lights before
hanging and have a power strip ready so you won't have to deal with so many
cords. The rule of thumb is that you need one strand of lights for every
one foot of tree.
Hang lights first
(wrap the trunk first, then the middle of the branches, and then the outer
branches for a sense of depth), then garlands, then ornaments. (If you use
an artificial tree and have room to store it all set up, keep the lights
on it and they will be ready next year.)
When hanging ornaments,
hang your ornaments first in the middle of the branches, and then at the
ends. This will make the tree look fuller, and reflective ornaments in the
middle of the tree towards the trunk will reflect any lights you use and
make it seem as though you have more of them.
For a designer
effect, choose a dominant theme for the tree -- Stained glass, Victorian,
silk or dried flowers, birds, St. Nicholas and other Saints, whatever you
love. For every foot of the tree's height, use roughly 10 larger theme ornaments
to every 25 smaller, more "generic" ornaments for color and fullness. Using
green-colored hanging hooks, hang the smaller ornaments first, tapering the
size of the ornaments so that the smallest ornaments are toward the top of
Some people decorate
with chrismons -- monograms of Christ and other
Christian symbols (e.g., different types of Crosses,
a lamb, fish, anchor, pelican, etc.). Usually chrismons used to decorate
Christmas trees are white and gold in color.
For a dramatic
effect with inexpensive ornaments, take 1 large ball ornament, 1 medium sized
one, and 1 small one, monochromatic or in the color scheme of your choice;
bind their hangers together and adjust so that the small ornament sits highest,
the medium-sized ornament sits in the middle, and the large one lies the
lowest. Hang as a cluster.
There's a relatively
recent American custom regarding the hiding of a special ornament for children
to find. It's become not uncommon for parents to hide a green glass ornament
shaped like a pickle -- and called the "German Pickle." This practice poses
as an old-country German tradition, but is actually a charming German-American
one -- and a clever one, too, in that the green pickle is challenging to
spot among the green branches.