The Untold Symbolism of Christmas: Bells

Christmas is filled with carols and songs of bells. I think of hymns we sing in church like, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and “Carol of the Bells.” We even have fun secular Christmas songs that have bells in them like “Jingle bells,” “Jingle bell rock,” and “Silver Bells,” that feature bells around the Christmas season. This time of year bells can be found hanging on wreaths, displayed on garlands and hanging on front doors. You might even hear them jingling around a horse’s neck as horse drawn carriage passes by.

I love how my church family celebrates the Christmas season with a handbell choir. It sounds like Christmas! It’s so beautiful and they have such a seasonal sound that brings me joy.

Bells make announcements; they get our attention. Something’s happened; they call us towards something. I grew up on 9 acres in Virginia and we’d play outside for hours. My mother had a giant cast iron bell perched atop a pole she’d ring to alert us that dinner is ready. We’d hear that old bell from far away and run to the house to wash up for supper. I have used a pewter bell in my own home to call the family together for dinner. Bells have been used for thousands of years to call us into worship, to celebrate weddings, or even to announce the end of a war in communities. We ring bells with gladness and with hope in our hearts and in celebration.

So why are bells a part of our Christmas decorations? How do they help us celebrate Christmas? They announce the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, into our world. Jesus is born! The long awaited Messiah has come! We can rest because salvation is here! This is cause for great celebration!

Bells bring happiness and joy and I hope all who hear them this Christmas season will think, “Peace on earth, Goodwill to men,” as the lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” say. This peace comes from God through His Son, Jesus. May we be drawn deeper into God as we hear bells this year and may we share with others the reason for the season and great Hope and Peace we have been given in our Lord Jesus.

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