A Tradition-ful Advent:


A Little History:

Christmas bells are a common part of our Christmas celebrations. We use bells to decorate, we hang them on our doors to make a pleasant noise as guests enter our homes, and we sings songs about them like Jingle Bells and Silver Bells.  However, bells were a sign of Christmas long before those songs existed or we hung them around as decoration.
Throughout history, bells have been rung to get peoples attention.  To announce news, or to signal a major life event or occasion. They were loud and could be heard from far away, so bells were used in times before there was newspapers, radio, TV or internet to announce news.  Town criers made the announcements, and they would use bells to get people’s attention so people would quiet down and listen.  They were also rung on both joyous and sad occasions including both weddings and funerals.
So in that tradition, bells have been rung at Christmas for the same reason – to announce and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
The Connection:

When we see bells in decoration, hear them rung in churches or on street corners by Salvation Army volunteers we can remember two things.  One, these bells are announcing the birth of Jesus. They are loud and they grab our attention to stop and look.  So in that moment, stop and remember it’s Jesus we are celebrating.

Secondly though, you know who else wears bells?  Sheep.  Sheep wear bells so that their shepherd knows where they are at all times.  The bells call out “here I am” so that no sheep ever gets lost.  The Bible says Jesus is our shepherd, and He always knows where we are, what we are doing, and even what we are thinking.  We can depend on Jesus to help us when life gets hard—just as the shepherd takes care of His sheep.


Verse(s) to Remember:

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
– Not a verse, but a perfect quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ideas to Make it Stick:

  • Listen to or sing the hymn “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.
  • Make bell shaped cookies, or if you’re really crafty make Bell ornaments or any of dozens of other bell themed Christmas crafts!
  • Drop some money in a Salvation Army bucket and take a turn ringing the bell for them.

Please feel free to share with friends and leave comments…  Do you have other connections between the tradition and the heart of the holiday?  Creative ideas to make it stick?  I’d love to know what you and your family do with this!


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