13 Popular Christmas Symbols And What They Symbolize In Christmas  

Do you love everything Christmas from decorating Christmas trees to buying Christmas themed gifts? But do you know what Christmas symbols are and what they mean? If you don’t then why don’t you read this article to learn what these traditional Christmas symbols mean and why they are used even today.

Here are some of the most Christmas symbols and what they symbolize.

Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree is one of the major Christmas symbols. Christmas is incomplete without this symbolic Christmas tree. Both Christians and Pagans have believed trees to be as symbol of birth and resurrection of son of God, Jesus and everlasting life in servitude to God.

Trees usually used for decorating in Christmas are evergreen trees like fir, spruce, or pine trees that remain green and lush throughout the year. These trees are decorated with sparking lights, glittering tinsel and Christmas ornaments. These trees are triangular in shape with a broader bottom that narrows towards the top.

This triangular shape is believed to symbolize the Holy Trinity i.e. God, The Holy Spirit and Jesus. The Christmas tree pointing towards Heaven represents the connection between God and humans.



No Christmas tree is complete without a star at the top of the tree. But did you ever wonder why that star was placed on the top and what it symbolizes? The Christmas star is another major Christmas symbol that represents the bright star which appeared over the the little town of Bethlehem the night Jesus was born.

According to the Christmas Story commonly known as Nativity Story in the ‘Gospel of Matthew’ the star guided three kings(wise men) to find baby Jesus. The star also represents peace and hope.



Candles are another Christmas symbol that traditionally represent the bright star that appeared over Bethlehem that guided three kings or wise men towards baby Jesus. Christmas is a festival that was celebrated way before the introduction of electricity, so people use to decorate their Christmas Trees with candles. This is how lighting candles became a part of Christmas tradition.

Candles are also important in two other festivals celebrated in winter months is Hanukkah, a Jewish festival and Kwanzaa, an African festival. Both these festivals fall in and around Christmas.



Another Christmas symbol are tinsels that are used to decorate Christmas trees. Tinsel derived from the old French term étinceller meaning ‘to sparkle.’ Traditionally, tinsel was used in decorating trimming Christmas tree that would create a visual of flickering candlelight.

These reflective tinsels reminds us of the warmth and brightness of the Christmas season. These tinsels show how Jesus was born to be a guiding light to humanity in the world.

Christmas Ornaments

Christmas Ornaments that you use to decorate your Christmas tree symbolizes fruits, nuts, paper roses and other things that were used to decorate Christmas trees originally. These modern tradition of decorating Christmas trees with glittering glass or ‘Christmas baubles” started from mid-1800s.

In the mid-1800s when Hans Greiner, a German glassmaker started manufacturing handmade baubles.

Before that, traditionally, Christmas trees were decorated using candles that got replaced by dried fruits, apples, and nuts.

Now people use ornaments representing family histories or traditions, stockings or glittering stars or baubles in America and Europe, giving birth to modern traditions for decorating Christmas trees.


Bells have been one of the major Christmas symbols that represent joy on the occasion of the birth of Christ. The ringing of the bells signifies Jesus watching over us. The ringing of the bell used to bring back an errant sheep herd back to the fold and ward of evil spirits in the traditional pagan winter celebrations.

Candy Canes

Candy Canes are shaped like a shepherd’s staff who went on a search for Jesus the night he was born in Bethlehem. Another meaning of this minty candy cane and its hoked shape is Jesus himself who called himself “the Good Shepherd” and those who followed him were called his flock, AKA the sheep.

Also, the cane shape of the candy also makes it easy to hang on the Christmas tree while decorating.


Wreaths are a common Christmas symbol that are often hung on doors and as Christmas decorations.

Wreath, a common Christmas symbol, symbolizes Jesus Christ’s strength of love. The shape of the wreath is a circle that also represents the circle of life, rebirth and love. For Christians, the wreath represents the thorns of crown that Jesus wore as he was crucified.

Gingerbread Men

You will often find this Christmas symbol in your Christmas feast especially in cookie form, yes we are talking about Gingerbread men. Gingerbread men symbolizes for some Christians the first man, Adam created by God and then he created us. There are many other meanings of Gingerbread men but this is the most common symbolization.

Red And Green Colors

Ever wondered why the colors red and green are the most used or popular colors during Christmas. The color red symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus while he was crucified. The color green is associated with evergreen plants such as holly, pine trees and mistletoe which remains evergreen throughout the season even during winter when all other trees shed their leaves.

These evergreen plants represent the everlasting life of Jesus Christ.



Mistletoe are believed by the people in the 1st Century A.D. to be a symbol of fertility and vivacity as it bloomed even during cold winters. Hence it became a part of Christmas tradition especially romantically taking a new spin of its own, i.e. kissing under the mistletoe.

Gifts With Bows

Gifts giving has become a tradition during Christmas and the season is also called ‘The Season of Giving.’ The gifts wrapped and adorned with a bow symbolizes the three wise men that followed the bright star to find baby Jesus and brought him gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold.

The gift bow also symbolized the unity among mankind and tells us to unity or ‘be tied together’ in goodwill.


One of the most popular Christmas symbols are Angels that symbolizes the angels that appeared to Mary to deliver God’s message that she was to bear his son. While another angel appeared to Joseph in his dream to deliver a message to put his trust on Mary. Another three angels appeared in the sky to announce Jesus Christ’s birth to the people of Bethlehem.

This is why angels are often used as traditional tree toppers during Christmas alongside stars. Angels played a major role in delivering God’s messages in the Nativity Story of Jesus.

Stockings, Poinsettia, Holly, Dove and many Christmas symbols have become part of the Christmas traditions. Let us know which symbol meanings you know previously. And what other Christmas symbols do you know of?

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