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The Hidden Symbolism Behind Your Favorite Christmas Decorations

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If you decorate a tree and hang stockings every year just because that's what everyone does, listen up: We did our research to find out the not-so-widely-talked-about reasons behind these traditions. Show off to friends and share your new-found trivia at the cookie swap this season.

WREATHS
Despite what you might think, these decorations weren't invented to spruce up your front door. According to The New York Times, Christians believe wreaths represent thorns worn by Jesus and the tiny red berries represent his blood.


CANDY CANES
People disagree on the origins of this holiday staple, but many (including Bronner's!) say the white represents purity, the red represents Jesus' blood shed, and the shape is supposed to be the staff of the Good Shepherd. Think about that the next time you enjoy this minty treat.


CHRISTMAS TREES
Of all holiday decorations, the tree is perhaps the most iconic. The tradition started, because in many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away evil spirits and illness, according to History.


GINGERBREAD MEN
According to the Catholic church, these cookies are intended to remind us of when God created Adam in the Garden of Eden—and therefore his creation of all of us.


BELLS
Since bells are traditionally rung at the beginning of mass in Catholic services, they've naturally become a part of Christmas decor over the years, according to Why Christmas?


MISTLETOE
Since mistletoe survives by attaching itself to a tree (and would die without the tree), to Christians it represents how humans only exist because of God, according to A Christmas Testimony.


HOLLY
Legend (and the experts at the experts at How Stuff Works) says that the berries on this plant were originally white, but that the blood Christ shed stained them red forever, which is why it's now a common Christmas decoration.

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TINSEL
According to Santa's Net, this metallic decoration symbolizes light and is hung on a Christmas tree to make sure darkness has no power during the holiday season.


STOCKINGS
Legend (and the Smithsonian) says a widowed father to three girls was having a tough time providing for his daughters. After St. Nicolas heard about his situation, he decided to climb down the family's chimney and filled the girls' stocking with gold coins.


CHRISTMAS GIFTS

The inspiration behind giving and receiving gifts on Christmas started when the wise men brought their gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor Jesus being born, according to A Christmas Testimony. Now it's a way to share joy amongst loved ones.


From: Good Housekeeping

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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