The Symbolism Behind Your Christmas Decorations

Understanding what the Christmas symbols stand for. You can teach these to your children to help them think about more than gifts at Christmas.

Family decorating a Christmas tree

I have always loved to decorate my home, and at holidays, it is no exception.

I am big into intentional decorating and using symbolism when I decorate, so decorating for Christmas is extra exciting for me.

Most of the decorations we use as a society for Christmas are actually rooted in symbolism. The colors, shapes, and choices of common decorations are not all random.

Here are the common decorations used at Christmas and what they symbolize.

Christmas Symbols

These are symbols to note this Christmas season. Talking about these can help you and your family keep in mind the meaning of Christmas.


Red is for the blood of Jesus Christ, spilt to cleanse the sins of men. The red reminds us that the birth of the Savior, the person we celebrate Christmas for, is significant because of what he did with his life. He gave it for you and me.


White is for purity. Jesus Christ was pure, perfect, and without blemish.


Green is for everlasting life. Green is a color of life, and green in the bleak of winter means life year round. This translates to eternal life. We have green in Christmas trees. When you decorate your Christmas tree, talk about what green means.


The star is probably an obvious one for those who are familiar with the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is to symbolize the new star that came out the night of Christ’s birth, a sign that baby Jesus was born. The Christmas star reminds us of the sign of the birth of Christ.

Evergreen Tree

Just as green symbolizes everlasting life, the evergreen tree can be a symbol of that, also. It is more than that, though. A fir tree, or Christmas tree, has needles that point up, toward Heaven.


A wreath is a circle, and just as eternity has no beginning and no end, a circle has no beginning and no end.


We have lights because Jesus is the light of the world.

Candy Cane

The candy cane symbolizes the the crook of the shepherd.

Humble shepherds were the ones the angel visited to announce the birth of Jesus to.

They also herd sheep. The symbolism of lambs and how they tie to Jesus Christ is so vast that an entire book could be written on the topic.

You can also turn the candy cane upside down to make a “J” for Jesus, and the colors of red and white on the can are by no accident nor coincidence.


Bells announce things and are joyous. Just as bells proclaim things, we can proclaim that Jesus Christ was born.


We give Christmas gifts in honor of the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus. It is also a fun way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

We give gifts to others as a way to give a gift to Him. It is good to keep in mind that loving and serving others is the greatest gift of all.



Many years ago, I literally woke in the middle of the night with this poem in my head.

I wanted to go back to sleep (McKenna was  baby at the time, so I wasn’t really in a “I want to wake up in the middle of the night to write a poem” state of mind).

I felt very strongly that I needed to write it down then, however. Here is the poem:

Remember Christmas
by Valerie L. Plowman

Red reminds of the blood He spilt
to wash away and cleanse all of our guilt
White is for His actions, most pure.
Through sinless perfection, He did endure.
Green is for the life eternal
we can obtain through our Lord supernal.
The star shines like the one so bright
that twinkled above that first Christmas night.
The fir tree is for many things:
the tree of Jesse–the father of kings,
and for the needles pointing to the Lord–
that little babe we all adored.
The wreath shows one eternal round;
the begin’ of the Lord cannot be found.
The lights remind us that this babe
is the light of the world, and born to save.
The candy cane is for the crook;
not one sheep or lamb the shepherd forsook.
The Christmas bells we love to ring
proclaim joy! The birth of a newborn king.
These symbols remind us that we,
more like the three wise men all now should be.
Earnestly seeking to find the new babe
who humbly in a manger laid.

That year, we gave out the poem plus a bag of goodies for each item to our friends and neighbors as gifts. This is a fun way to help your child really internalize the symbols more AND to do some service.

You can get a free copy of the printable poem here.

  • Red: We used Christmas M&Ms
  • Green: We used Christmas M&Ms
  • White: We used white taffy
  • Star: We used starburst candy. You could also buy a star ornament for each person–or even cut a star out of paper.
  • Fir Tree: I found some cute tree suckers at Dollar Tree. It had a star and lights (or ornaments) on it, so it could work for many things for you.
  • Wreath: I went with chocolate cookies that are round. They also sell jelly filled chocolates at Christmas time. You could do a doughnut and even put green dyed coconut on it.
  • Lights: I just put lights around the poem, but you could get a strand of lights out or use little flashlights.
  • Candy Cane: I used a candy cane.
  • Bells: I put a little bell in each bag.

Related Christmas Posts on this Blog:

The Symbolism Behind Your Christmas Decorations. Understanding what the Christmas symbols stand for. You can teach these to your children to help them think about more than gifts at Christmas.

The ladies of the BFBN also have some great Christmas ideas. Be sure to check those out:

The meaning behind your decor at Christmas pinnable image

This post first appeared on this blog in December 2018

4 thoughts on “The Symbolism Behind Your Christmas Decorations”

  1. I love this! I’ve been reading a book by Ace Collins that has taught me so much about the symbols of Christmas! Thanks for sharing! 💖

  2. I love this! Absolutely perfect for my Preschool theme “Symbols of Christmas” the week after Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for posting the descriptions of symbols and for the beautiful poem.


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