Legends make fun tales to share. Traditions are a cool way to keep a cultural heritage alive and well through the generations (or just to make fun memories!) And symbols are a fun way to share something special! Brush up on your knowledge of each with this fun post highlighting just 12 of some of the legends, symbols and traditions you’ll find at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland!
LEGEND of the UNICORN
The mythical unicorn has long been a source of enchantment. Solitary, swift and graceful, the unicorn had a single spiraling horn growing from its forehead. Sought by many, the unicorn’s horn was said to have medicinal and magical properties. According to legend, the unicorn disregarded Noah’s call to board the ark, preferring to frolic in the rains of the Flood. Ever since, unicorns exist only in our imaginations.
TRADITION of the PICKLE
According to German tradition, the pickle brings good luck. After all the other ornaments were hung on the tree, the pickle ornament was hidden somewhere within the branches. On Christmas morning, the first child to find the gherkin was rewarded with an additional small present left by St. Nicholas. The pickle tradition encourages youngsters to enjoy the many ornaments on the tree before checking to see what St. Nick has brought them.
LEGEND of the DONKEY’S CROSS
Legend tells us that the donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday followed Him to Calvary. Appalled by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but could not leave. It is said that the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and back of the donkey. A cross marking found on many donkeys today remains a testimony of the love and devotion of a humble, little donkey.
LEGEND of the CHRISTMAS ROSE
Rose ornaments on a Christmas tree are symbolic of beauty and are believed to be an expression of affection and love.
Legend tells us that a lowly shepherdess knelt at the manger, weeping because she had no gift to offer the newborn King. As her tears fell to earth, a rosebush sprang into bloom. She picked a bouquet of roses and offered them to the baby Jesus as her gift of love.
LEGEND of the LILY OF THE VALLEY
Legend claims that as the Virgin Mary cried at the crucifixion of Jesus, her tears fell softly and turned into a beautiful flower, the lily of the valley. Even today many people call these delicate, bell-shaped flowers Mary’s tears. Lily of the Valley is rich with the fragrance of springtime and new beginnings. These flowers also symbolize the sweetness, purity and rejuvenating qualities of Jesus Christ.
SYMBOL of the CLADDAGH RING
Originating in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh in the 17th century, the Claddagh ring is now used internationally as a token of friendship and love. The hand represents friendship and togetherness, the crown stands for loyalty, and the heart symbolizes love. Because of its history, unique design, and significant meanings, the Claddagh ring is often given and worn to celebrate many special occasions.
LEGEND of the HOLLY
The bright red and green of holly make it a natural symbol of rebirth. Legends regarding this plant abound. According to one legend, holly branches bearing white berries were woven into Christ’s crown of thorns. Since the blood of Christ stained the berries, they grow red on the holly branch to this day. Holly has also come to stand for peace and joy.
TRADITION of the YULE LOG
An ancient tradition originating in Europe, the yule log warmed the house during the cold Christmas night. It was ceremoniously brought to the fireplace and lit with the remnants of the log from the previous year. This was to ease trouble from the past and bring good fortune and protection from fire. Today the yule log takes the form of a traditional French cake shaped like a log, a perfect finish to a Christmas feast.
LEGEND of the DREAM CATCHER
According to legend, Native Americans wove dream catchers and hung them above their sleeping places. Inspired by a spider weaving its web, dream catchers were believed to offer protection from bad dreams. Bad dreams became entangled in the web and disappeared with the first rays of the morning sun. Good dreams passed through the center of the dream catcher and were guided down to the sleeping person below.
LEGEND of the PANDA
Long ago pandas were pure white. Chinese legend tells how the panda got its black and white coat. The ancient tale tells of a young girl who gave her life to save a snowy-white panda cub. The pandas were very sad and rubbed black ashes on their legs as a sign of mourning. They wiped their eyes, hugged each other and covered their ears with their paws. Wherever they touched themselves the ashes stained their fur black.
LEGEND of the ROOSTER
Legend states that the only time the rooster crowed at midnight was the night that Jesus was born. In Spanish and Latin American countries, “Misa del Gallo,” the Mass of the Rooster, is celebrated at midnight on Christmas Eve. The crowing of the rooster at the dawn of each morning symbolizes the daily triumph of light over darkness and the victory of good over evil.
LEGEND of the DOGWOOD
At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the dogwood tree was a large, strong tree. Chosen to serve as the cross, the tree was greatly distressed. Sensing this, Jesus determined that the dogwood tree would never again grow large enough to become a cross. The dogwood tree blooms in the spring, often at Easter. Its blossom forms a cross and suggests the appearance of stained nail prints on the edge of each petal and a crown of thorns in the center of each flower.
If you love learning about different legends, symbols and traditions then you might enjoy flipping through the pages of Bronner’s updated edition of Ornament Legends, Symbols & Traditions guide with custom art by Bronner’s artist Connie Larsen, which explores 100 of the special legends and symbols that have inspired the beautiful ornaments sold at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.
Ready to get started with your own collection of legends, symbols and traditions? Bronner’s has the perfect set to help!
LEGEND SAYS … ?
We’d love to hear some of your favorite legends (or even the traditions your family shares) in the comments below!