chrismons | Background



History: Frances Kipps Spencer, a member of the Lutheran Church of the Ascension, Danville, Va., was inspired by an elderly pastor, the Rev. George Pass, in using simple materials to glorify God. He had stopped by her home during the Christmas season of 1940 and saw discarded Christmas wrapping paper and ribbon. He asked he for the materials to make simple decorations for his small church’s Christmas tree. In the 1950s, Spencer used the Rev. Mr. Pass’ idea of honoring God through Christmas decorations. She researched designs called chrisma, which were in the early church. The symbols were used to represent Christ and identify places of worship.

Designs: Designs include Chi Rho with Alpha and Omega, the most widely known symbol is a combination of the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, Christos (Xpisto), and the Chi Rho (XP) was used by the early church; cross atop an orb symbolizes Christ holding an orb with the world and heaven around it and reflects his dominion over all; shepherd’s crook with Alpha and Omega is for Jesus as the eternal Good Shepherd; fish, this was used a secret sign to identify other Christians and is an affirmation of faith; Celtic cross, which is from the Isle of Iona in Ireland; and crown, a symbol of the kingship of Christ. Other designs include Jerusalem cross, eight-pointed and Epiphany stars, Greek and Latin crosses, fish in circle, three entwined circles, stylized fish and fish in circle.

Source: Lutheran Church of the Ascension