What’s the Meaning of Those Special Christmas Tree Ornaments?

by | Christmas | 10 comments

image by lumpi

image by lumpi

The ornaments are called Chrismons. The word comes from two words: Christ and monogram. In 1957, Kim Spencer from a Lutheran church in Danville, VA introduced the first Chrismons.

In early times, people drew symbols to show what they believed about God. The first Christians designed many of these symbols. They placed them on their doorposts and catacombs to declare what they believed. Many of the symbols have endured and you see them as Chrismons on Christmas trees. They all point to Jesus.

The ornaments are white and gold. White is the color for Christmas and represents the Lord’s purity and perfection. Gold points to God’s glory and majesty.

The following Chrismons tell the story of Jesus.

img_1002Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. Together, they symbolize that Jesus is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus existed before creation.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:13)


img_1033The Star of David reminds us that Jesus was a Jew and a descendant of King David.

Also, the six points represent God’s: love, mercy, wisdom, majesty, power, and justice. In this form, the two triangles represent the persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


img_1018The Angel Gabriel, sent by God, visited Mary, a young virgin. Gabriel told Mary she would be the mother of Jesus, God’s Son.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. (Luke 1:32-35)


img_1004The Manger is a symbol of the baby Jesus.

The time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6–7)


img_1009Angels heralded Jesus’ birth to the lowly shepherds.                          

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God.” (Luke 2:10-13)


img_1041The Nativity Star represents the sign in the night sky announcing Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The Wise Men followed the star to visit Jesus. Its cross shape symbolizes the salvation that the birth of this child brings.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1–2)


img_1017The Dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. It is shown pointing down to represent the Holy Spirit’s decent on Jesus like a Dove when Jesus was baptized at the beginning of His ministry. The three pointed rays around its head signify the trinity.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. (Matthew 3:16)


img_1031The Lamb is a symbol for Jesus who’s called The Lamb of God. Before Jesus, animals were sacrificed for forgiveness of sins. The Lamb of God would be the final sacrifice for forgiveness of believers’ sins.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)


img_1050The Fish is one of the oldest Christian symbols. Letters in the Greek word for fish stand for Jesus, Christ, God, Son, and Savior. The fish symbol expressed the Christians’ need for a Savior and that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. Some of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)


img_1049The Lamp depicts God’s Holy Word. Jesus is the Word and lights our path.  

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)


img_1011The Candle symbolizes that Jesus is the Light of the World.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”            (John 8:12)


img_1015The Cup symbolizes the sacrament of Holy Communion, which Jesus performed at the last supper with His disciples. It also represents God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with God.

After the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20)


img_1043The Cross symbolizes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for everyone, and without His sacrifice, we would be lost forever.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).


img_1047The Triquerta represents the Trinity. God is one God, but there are three equal persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)


img_1044The Jerusalem Cross symbolizes the Four Gospels in the Bible or the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. The five crosses can represent the five wounds of Jesus when he died on the cross.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”              (Mark 16:15)


img_1012The Butterfly is a symbol for Jesus’ work, which was not finished when he died on the cross. He was resurrected and then He ascended into heaven. After His ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in Christians’ hearts. The butterfly also represents transformation.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20–21)


img_1013The Crown is the symbol that Jesus is King, ruler over heaven and earth. It also reminds us that some day we will receive crowns in heaven.

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”                (Revelation 11:15)

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness … (2 Timothy 4:8)

The meaning of the special ornaments on Christmas trees. Click to tweet.

image by geralt

image by geralt

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  1. Cleo Lampos

    Is there a place where I could purchase all of those ornaments? I would love to have a tree filled with the symbolism. thanks for this post.

  2. pamelasthibodeaux

    Beautiful Zoe!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours too.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Pam. We based our Christmas program on the meaning of these Chrismons. It was well received. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Pam.

  3. Scott Lahti

    Loved this “and” your Christmas Program! Merry Christmas, Scott

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Scott. I’m glad you joined us for the Chrismon Christmas Program.

  4. mimionlife

    Beautiful! Merry Christmas!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Mimi. And a very Merry Christmas to you as well.

  5. Hope Dougherty

    I’m reading this post late, but thanks so much for sharing this wonderful information. I’ve always wondered about the history of the Chrismon tree and the meaning behind the symbols. Thank you!

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      So, I wasn’t alone, Hope, in wanting to know more about the ornaments and what they meant. Maybe I’ll post it again next Christmas.

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