What sits on top of your Christmas tree?
There are really three traditional options here and each has deep scriptural and religious meaning. That said, times they are a’changing!
The most traditional tree topper is a Star. This, of course, represents the star that guided the wise men to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ.
Coming in as a close second is an Angel. The angel represents the divine messenger who appeared to the shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. Early angel tree toppers were handmade and featured lace wings and lots of cotton to represent the clouds out of which the angels came. Later they were mass produced and you can often tell the era from which they come by the dress and hair style (funny how we assume they were female). There was also a tradition of this kind of topper with multiple angels to represent the heavenly host that swooped down to the shepherds.
In a distant third is the Spire. Glasswork companies popularized these toppers and they range from heavy leaded glass to lightweight “ornament grade” glass. The spire represents the local church or cathedral (yay!). Like church spires and the Christmas tree itself, spire toppers are to encourage people to look up to the heavens and remember God and Christ.
Today, tree toppers come in all shapes and sizes; many of which have no Christian overtones at all. Modern lighting has allowed traditional toppers to be lit in ways stars, angels and spires never have been before! Beyond that, however, I have seen these: Snowmen, Santa, Reindeer, Yoda from Star Wars, Elvis, Gnomes, and your favorite empty Ben and Jerry’s ice cream container. People can get very creative.
Another popular tradition today is to top your tree with a family photo.
Whatever you choose to put on the top of your Christmas tree, I hope it brings you joy. My bias, of course, is that it has something to do with the Christmas story (yes, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to tree toppers!), but in the end, I do hope it makes you smile and draws you closer to a feeling of joy.
That’s because when you find joy, God is very nearby.
See you in church,