Symbols of the Season

Leslie Ehrlich © 2009

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Itís that time of year! Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us began stitching special projects for gifts months ago! As I began working on a Christmas tree in a current round robin I am in, I decided it would be fun to include some symbols of the season within my stitching (ie: cobwebs, candy canes, birds, trees, wreaths, bells, stockings, etc.) I began by Googling Christmas symbols and was surprised to discover how many things with a historical connotation still show up in our culture today. I found LOTS of information on all sorts of objects and colors, many of which have religious as well as ďfolkloricĒ meanings.

One of my favorite Christmas stories is a ďA Cobweb ChristmasĒ by Shirley Climo. Here, Tante decorates her tree and has something special for all (except the spiders) who visit her (human or animal) on Christmas Eve. In her cleaning, she had swept out the spiders, but they came back in with one of the visitors and unknowingly gave her what she had always wanted for Christmas.  When the spiders spun their draping webs around the tree, tinsel was created!  While there are several versions of this story, the basic idea is the same. So, I stitched a spider and a web.

Next I beaded some cardinals.

In mythology, these birds are very strong in personality and color. It has been said that if a cardinal flies into your life you may expect change within twelve hours/days/months or at the hour of twelve. Cardinals can teach you how to express your truth and develop confidence. The color red itself has important religious connotations, as do the colors blue (skies that glow by sunlight and moonlight), green (trees and plants that provide life), gold and silver (rich blessings). You can read more about ornaments and their meaning, here:

I tucked a little teddy bear (nick named after Teddy Roosevelt and a popular childís toy) at the bottom of the tree and am hoping that presents will also be added by another stitcher . On other projects, I included a wreath.  The wreath has no beginning or end and symbolizes undying love and ever lasting life as the boughs do not die.

On Hideko's Christmas Stocking, I used a snowman because the snow means purity, and for me personally, is a symbol of winter and childhood.

I have also used a Christmas tree, to symbolize good luck and as a sign that winter will end, along with some pine boughs (everlasting life). And more: a sled, musical notes, poinsettia (a gift to the Christ child by a poor Mexican boy), Santa Claus (aka Saint Nicholas who threw bags of coins through windows, or placed it in the hung stockings of needy people) and bells (announcing the birth of Jesus).

Iím off now to work on a couple of Christmas tree skirts! More ideas: stockings (anonymous gift left in a stocking hung by the fireplace to dry), candy canes (developed to keep children quiet during the church service), ice skates (originally made with animal leg bones; and what about a Yule log (meant to burn for twelve days during the solstice to ward off the evil of the previous year), mistletoe (part of the Winter Solstice celebration), cookies (a way to thank Santa for all his hard work), carolers (bad luck to send carolers away without something for their efforts), candles (faith).

There are a myriad of other designs that would be super on your Christmas gifts; it's fun to know their history too, isnít it!

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