Personalised Christmas Ornaments & Stories
The History of Candy Canes, Stars and Other Christmas Symbols
What do the symbols of Christmas mean? Christmas is a time of traditions. It’s the day we break out Granny’s old china and make fruitcakes from worn recipe cards. We almost always celebrate the same way – some with Christmas morning pressies and a giant turkey for lunch, some playing cricket at the beach with prawns, salads and plenty of cold beer.
There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate, but traditions are a huge part of what makes Christmas … feel like Christmas. That’s also why we use the same beloved symbols on our Christmas ornaments year after year – Santa Claus, snowmen, evergreen trees, snowflakes and candy canes, to name just a few. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
Oh My Giddy Aunt! We love this time of year when our customers are looking for that special, symbolic ornament for their baby’s first Christmas, for Granny or even for themselves.
We are fortunate to have hand-engraving skills in house to personalise these beautiful Christmas symbols creating a precious reminder of a person and time that simply can’t be replicated. And the magic continues each year when you pull the cherished ornament out of its box, carefully unwrap its tissue paper wrapping and hang it on the Christmas tree.
But each year when we unwrap our ornaments we also wonder, just what do these Christmas symbols mean? How do they fit into the story of Christmas?
The Story of Santa Claus
Oh, good ol’ Saint Nick! Perhaps our favourite childhood superhero, truth be told Christmas simply wouldn’t be Christmas without this jolly red fellow. Santa’s history could fill a book, but the original Santa legend can be traced back to Saint Nicholas in the 3rd century, who is said to have given away all his wealth to travel the world helping those in need.
‘Sinterklaas’ was brought to America by the Dutch in the 1700s and made famous by Washington Irving who referred to him as the patron saint of New York City. By the late 1800s the Salvation Army was sending out red-suited bell ringers to seek donations and kids were traipsing to shopping malls all over America to see statutes of Santa Claus. Our modern Santa Claus was born.
Santa as a symbol reminds us that Christmas is a time of giving.
Why Snowman Ornaments?
Even here in Australia we are beset by snowmen at Christmas time. Though it may not feel terribly Aussie, it certainly feels very Christmassy! But why? The origins of snowmen are unfortunately unclear. I can imagine children (in the snowier parts of Europe) building likenesses in the snow since time immemorial, but the specific symbol of three snowballs, layered on top, with coal for eyes and mouth, a carrot for the nose, sticks for arms and, of course, a black top hat.
Certainly, by the Victorian age the ‘traditional’ snowman was a big part of Christmas celebrations. You can see find him dancing and cavorting on paintings, gifts and greeting cards from this age. But he rose to his iconic status with the release of one of the Western world’s most well-loved Christmas carols, ‘Frosty the Snowman’. Written by Steve Edward Nelson and Walter ‘Jack’ Rollins, Gene Autry recorded the song in 1950 and it has remained a Christmas classic ever since.
Today the snowman is a symbol of the joy and happiness of Christmas.
What Does a Christmas Tree Mean?
The evergreen tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals, both pagan and Christian. Pagans used evergreen boughs to decorate their homes during the winter solstice as a reminder that spring was returning. And Christians used evergreens as a sign of everlasting life with God.
The first documented use of the evergreen in the modern Christmas tree style was in 1441 in Tallinn, Estonia, but they have continued to be a beloved Christmas symbol world-wide ever since.
Today the Christmas tree is a symbol of hope and rebirth.
Christmas Decoration Snowflakes
Snowflakes are one of the simplest, but most beautiful Christmas symbols. We love seeing Christmas trees adorned with snowflake ornaments, garlands of paper snowflakes and wrapping paper dotted with their silvery-white shapes. But snowflakes are not simply a nod to the European winter.
As a Christian celebration, Christmas commemorates the incarnation of Jesus who, according to Christian beliefs, can make all sins white as snow.
The humble snowflake is a symbol of purity.
What Does a Candy Cane Symbolise
Candy canes are a Christmas staple – you can see them hanging on Christmas trees, decorating gingerbread houses and, of course, being handed round by school children all over Australia. Candy canes were invented around 350 years ago for the same purpose – to decorate the Christmas tree and as a bit of sweet for unruly children.
Originally candy canes were simply white lolly sticks, but in 1670 a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany bent the sugar sticks into shepherd’s hooks and handed them out to kids who attended the ceremonies. The practice became popular at churches in America and Australia as well, and the red and white version followed in the early 1900s.
Some people believe that the candy cane has religious symbolism (red and white stripes represent the blood and purity of Christ and the ‘J’ shape represents Jesus’ name). The candy cane also symbolises the sweetness of the season.
Choosing Your Own Personal Christmas Ornaments
Christmas ornaments have a long and varied history as well, that goes back to the 16th century when Germans decorated evergreen trees with apples. You know we adore tradition, and gorgeous keepsake Christmas ornaments are one that we keep alive and well here at Oh My Giddy Aunt.
From Santa Claus to snowflakes, we have ornaments that will bring sparkle, joy and symbolism to your Christmas.
Browse through our range of fabulous Christmas Ornaments online. The range changes each year so you can continue to add to add chapters to your own Christmas Story by representing the loved ones in your life.
14 February 2020
23 August 2021
17 March 2017