Docents’ talk offers insight into meaning of Chismon tree

Published 6:27 pm Friday, November 26, 2010

There are many symbols of Christmas and some of them are more secular than Christian.

And, it will be those Christian symbols of Christmas that will be the focus of the docent meeting at 4 p.m. Monday in the main gallery of the Johnson Center for the Arts at 300 East Walnut Street in downtown Troy.

Claire Murphy will present a program on the Chrismon symbols and the public is invited.

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Murphy said that, growing up in the Methodist church, the Chrismon symbols have always been a part of Christmas for her.

“Chrismon means Christ’s monograms,” Murphy said.

“These ‘Chrismon’ symbols are often used as decoration for Christmas trees, especially in churches. The Chrismon tree is highly symbolic and conveys the life of Christ and the meaning of Christmas.

“We have been decorating a Christmas tree at the Johnson Center with Chrismons for the past couple of years. This year, Jo Harvell and I thought it would be a good idea to ask the kids at First United Methodist and First Baptist to make the Chrismons.”

The children met at two different times and decorated the Chrismons and learned a lot about the Christian symbols of Christmas.

“The Christian symbols have been around as long as churches,” Murphy said. “But it

wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the Christian symbols were used to decorate Christmas trees.”

Murphy said crosses were first added to the Greek, Hebrew and Italian symbols and, today, the symbols include anything Bible based, from the Ten Commandments to grapes and palm leaves.

“Chrismons are symbolic of anything related to the Christian faith,” she said. “But the colors are restrictive.”

At the Johnson Center docent/public meeting on Monday, Murphy will discuss the meaning of the different Chrismons and how each relates to the Christmas season.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to bring a friend.