It was an ordinary bare brown grapevine wreath hanging among many others in a local craft shop. It seemed to be waiting—for a pair of hands to fasten ribbons, bows, a spray of dried flowers on it, to give it color and life. Such wreaths are typically displayed at Christmas to grace a front door, a window or a wall with their red and green cheer. Holly, berries, evergreen and plaid ribbons make them a common symbol of the holiday season.
When I told my husband Jhan that I wanted to hang a wreath on our front door for the Hanukkah/Christmas season, he said, Jews don’t have wreaths!” That was true, as far as I could tell. Still, I liked the idea of displaying some sort of decoration that would let others know what we as Jewish believers in the Messiah were celebrating. Also, I felt it was important for us as a family to establish our own holiday traditions.
An idea began to take shape in my mind: a homemade Hanukkah/ Christmas wreath in celebration of God’s gift in Yeshua! I went back to the store and bought that bare grapevine wreath. I told my husband and older daughter Kayla that we were going to decorate it together.
Finding symbols that represented our Jewish roots as well as our Christian faith was more difficult than I had imagined, but we enjoyed the challenge. As the three of us brought together mementos—ribbons, bits and pieces of our home collection—the wreath took shape and came to life. What we fashioned as a family reflected our faith as well as our creativity. In the end, we had shaped the beginning of a holiday tradition. It was something that we could bring out each December and further decorate as our family and experience with God increased.
The fashioning of our family wreath was fun and meaningful, as the holiday season ought to be—a time for rejoicing and remembering, for creativity and celebration. The choices we made were personal, but we want to share them with others as the possible basis for their own holiday wreaths.
The following are some of the items we used for our wreath:
1. Blue, white and gold ribbons. (We chose blue and white because they are the colors of the Israeli flag, and after all, our Savior was born in Bethlehem, not the Bronx.)
2. A small Israeli flag purchased at a local Jewish bookstore. We feel it reflects our Jewish “roots” and Yeshua’s.
3. A small eight-branched tin Hanukkah menorah (purchased at the same bookstore).
4. A blue enameled Jews for Jesus button.
5. A shiny gold six-pointed star (found, surprisingly, among a host of Christmas decorations).
6. A small plastic dreidel ( a spinning top used in Hanukkah games).
7. A tiny fleece lamb borrowed from my daughter’s book shelf—a reminder that the Lamb of God was born to take away our sins.
8. A small bag of Hanukkah “gelt”—gold-foil covered chocolate “coins” that are traditionally given to Jewish children at Hanukkah.
9. A small silver trumpet—a Christmas tree ornament—to symbolize the heralding of God’s Good News to us.
Merry Messiahmas and Happy Hanukkah!