Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A bit of Christmas colour

A friend of mine decorates the front of their home with all kinds of cheerful and interesting bits of colour and characters.

One of the things that we both chuckle over is that the birds think the berries on this particular decoration are real. If you look closely they have peeled back the bright reddy-pink cover of the styrofoam berry lookalikes and gone back to the bird feeder in disgust.

Still they keep trying. And we still chuckle.

It's fun to see some of the Christmas lights coming on and the other decorations as well. When I went to the city on Sunday to celebrate with my brother and his family I stopped to use a street-side telephone, having forgotten to pay for more time on my cell, which is fairly typical of this time of year. When I glanced into the lobby of an apartment building as I walked by I saw a Christmas tree in one corner and a Menorah in another.

Given that Toronto is a pretty cosmopolitan city, I smiled and thought how appropriate. How neat that the building management thought to do this. Or perhaps it's a condo building and the board decided. Whichever it was - it was pretty and made a statement to me and hopefully to other passers-by that we can and should live and let live in harmony and peace.

And then there is the Christmas wreath. This from

Wreaths have been used symbolically for centuries. The circle or ring shape is symbolic of eternity or eternal life, because the shape has no beginning or end. Back in ancient Rome, this symbol became so powerful that people used decorative wreaths as a sign of victory. Some believe that this is where the hanging of wreaths on doors came from.
Putting plants into the symbolic circular shape symbolizes the strength of life overcoming the forces of winter. Wreaths and other decorations during long winters often consisted of whatever natural materials looked attractive at this bleak time of year. People used candles, fires, evergreens, hollies, berries, and forced blossoms to hold on to the promise of spring.

A Brief History of Holly and the Christmas Wreath

The ancient Druids are the first society in known history to have worn sprigs of holly and mistletoe. These priests of yesteryear believed that holly, with its glossy, shiny prickly leaves of green adorned with red berries, remained green all year due to their magical properties. The Druids considered Holly sacred. Many speculate the holly berries have given us our green and red colours of Christmas.

And of course we recognize this jolly elf. This is what the has to say about the origins of Santa Claus:

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. 

He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration,St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

For more stories about how St. Nicholas became Santa Claus you can read about it in - a fascinating website.

And so I end my day, with stories of Christmas and sugar plums dancing in my head. Though I started it with this:
A beautiful start to a beautiful day - may you be happy thinking about celebrations of all kinds as well.


  1. You sure showed a lot of faces of Christmas in this post Barbara. From the front door decorations to the information about holly giving us the red and green Christmas colors this was a lot of fun to read. And I especially loved the last photo, a beautiful sunrise, giving all hope for a new day!

  2. Thank you my friend - I so enjoyed writing it - and doing a bit of research that people might enjoy. At the moment I'm trying to figure out what to write about and there is a big blizzard outside. Earlier it was gently falling snowflakes, wet heavy snow and I thought of making a snow man. Christmas means so much to so many different people - those who don't celebrate it for any other reason than it's a fun festival where people get together and eat and drink well to those who spend the day on their knees blessing the baby Jesus. And all in between and outside that circle. Whatever it means to whomever, may the spirit of Christmas, that of peace, joy and love shine through your next few days and the year ahead Bill, and your family's - and through everyone's around the world.