The Legend of the First Christmas Tree
The night of the Saviour's birth, all the living creatures, both flora and fauna, came to Bethlehem with gifts. The olive tree brought its fruit and the palm its dates. But the little fir tree had no gift and was so tired it couldn't resist when the big trees pushed it into the background and hid it from view. But then a nearby angel took pity and commanded a cluster of stars to come and rest on its delicate boughs. When the Baby Jesus beheld this lovely lighted tree, He smiled and blessed it, declaring henceforth that fir trees should always be filled with lights at Christmastime to please little children.
Legend of the Candy Cane
According to legend there was a candy maker in Indiana around the turn of the century who wanted to invent a candy that was a witness to Christ. The result was the candy cane.
First of all he used a hard candy because Christ is the rock of ages. This hard candy was shaped so that it would resemble either a "J" for Jesus or a shepherd's staff. He made it white to represent the purity of Christ. Finally a red stripe was added to represent the blood Christ shed for the sins of the world and three thinner red stripes for the stripes he received on our behalf when the Roman soldiers whipped him. Sometimes a green stripe is added as reminder that Jesus is a gift from God.
The flavor of the cane is peppermint which is similar to hyssop. Hyssop is in the mint family and was used in the Old Testament for purification and sacrifice. Jesus is the pure lamb of God come to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
So the next time you see a candy cane hear the sermon it preaches: Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is the sinless rock of ages who suffered and died for our sins
Sadly the young assistant pastor strolled through the snow-covered village of Oberndorf, Austria. In a few days it would be Christmas Eve, but Josef Mohr knew there would be no music in his church to herald the great event.
Pausing, Reverend Mohr gazed at the scattered lights in the village. The sight of this peaceful town, wrapped in a blanket of snow, stirred his imagination. Surely it was on such a clear and quiet night as this that the hosts of angels sang out the glorious news that the Saviour had been born.
The young cleric sighed heavily as he thought, "If only we here in Oberndorf could celebrate the birth of Jesus with glorious music like the shepherds heard on that wonderful night!"
Standing there, his mind filled with visions of the first Christmas, Josef Mohr suddenly became aware that the disappointment was fading from his heart; in its place surged a great joy. Vividly, he saw the manger, carved from a mountain side; he saw Mary and Joseph and the Child; he saw the strangers who had been attracted by the light of the great star. The image seemed to shape itself into the words of a poem he had written in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in the small Alpine village of Mariapfarr, Austria.
The next day he showed the poem to Franz Gruber, the church organist, who said, "These words should be sung at Christmas, but what could we use for accompaniment? Your guitar?"
The curate replied, "Like Mary and Joseph in the stable, we must be content with what God provides for us."
Franz Gruber studied the poem, then softly strummed the melody that came to him. Next he put the words to the melody and sang them. When he finished, his soul was ablaze with its beauty. Mr. Gruber's beautiful music added the final touch to the poem Mohr had written two years earlier.
On Christmas Eve, 1818, in a small Austrian village, the Oberndorf choir, accompanied only by a guitar, sang for the first time the immortal hymn that begins, "Silent Night.... Holy Night."
This fable (© Glenn D. Kittler, 1985) is from an old Christmas Card
and the actual facts and dates have been updated to reflect the true historical data.
Legend of the Poinsettia
The Poinsettia was named for Joel Robert Poinsett, a native of South Carolina. Poinsett was serving as an ambassador in Mexico when he came across the Poinsettia. In 1829 he sent some home from Mexico to South Carolina, where they did very well in his greenhouse.
According to legend, the origin of the poinsettia was as follows: A poor Mexican girl and her brother were on their way to church on Christmas eve but had nothing to give the Christ child. They gathered weeds and made them into a small bouquet. The other children made fun of their gift. When they laid the branches at the manger in the church the weeds were miraculously transformed into bright red and white leaves that we know was the poinsettia.
Another version of the legend speaks of a poor child who prayed for a gift to present to the Christ child. As he knelt at the altar his prayers bright red and green plants grew up at his feet.
There is another completely unrelated legend which says that as the Star of Bethlehem shone of the earth the earth responded by producing a plant that mirrored the star's beauty. The flower was star shaped with white petals and a golden star center. On the day that Christ died on the cross the white petals turned red to remember Jesus blood and some remained white to remember the purity of his sacrifice.
The general shape of the plant and the arrangement of leaves is seen as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to the baby Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.