It has long been a tradition at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church to decorate its worship space during the Advent and Christmas seasons with a Christmas tree bedecked with white lights. This year, thanks to the creative work of the women of the parish, St. Patrick’s dedicated its first Chrismon tree.
Chrismons were first made at the Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Va., in 1957 and have since become a widespread tradition among liturgical churches. Chrismons are white and gold ornaments that specifically replicate Christian symbols. White is the symbol of Christ’s purity, while gold symbolizes his majesty and glory. The white lights symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world.
Chrismons cannot be bought or sold, they must be handmade. Many of St. Patrick’s Chrismon ornaments are hand-painted, others are cross-stitched, and a few are crystal with gold appliqued symbols. White angels made of lace join the mix to grace the branches of the tree. Each ornament is a sign of love and devotion to God.
There are many Christian symbols represented, some of which might be surprising. For instance, a seashell represents Christian baptism, a butterfly the resurrection, the crown the kingship of Jesus, while a grapevine with grapes represents the wine of the Eucharist. There are also numerous designs of crosses representing different areas of Christianity around the world.
St. Patrick’s is pleased to display these beautiful creations on their first Chrismon tree, and plans to continue to add to the decorations in future years. “I am thrilled with the artistry that has gone into making these ornaments,” says Rev. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s, “and I hope that these Chrismons will serve as a testimony of our devotion to God for all who worship with us during the Advent and Christmas seasons, now and in years to come.”