A Chrismon Tradition

A chrismon is the combination of two words: CHRISt and MONogram— a monogram of Christ. The plural is chrisma and the word is not capitalized. Over the years these symbols have developed so that a chrismon may be a monogram, a sign, a symbol, or a combination of such figures. The one requirement is that it refers primarily to our Lord and God.

The first chrismon tree was designed by Frances Spencer in Danville, VA, at Ascension Lutheran Church in 1957. Since then, the chrismon designs have traveled all over the world.

All chrismons are hand-made in combinations of white and gold. White, the liturgical color for Christmas, refers to the Lord’s purity and perfection; gold, to His majesty and glory.

Each year the chrismon ladies at St. John’s make a miniature chrismon for each child of the congregation and each home-bound member. It is our hope that these will be kept for use and enjoyment for many years. Some families keep them well protected and at high school graduation, they are packaged and given to the child to take to college or wherever they go to begin their own life-long tradition. In fact, a miniature artificial tree would be a great graduation gift.

Questions arise as to how to properly store the chrismons. Since these are “treasures” and require much time, expense, and love to make, we hope the following ideas will help.

  1. Chrismons are not generally placed on a regular Christmas tree with other ornaments. Each one has a specific meaning (explained on the card accompanying the chrismon). It would be a great opportunity to explain each one to the child as it is placed on their own miniature tree. Chrismons can also be used at other items—on the Advent wreath, places on a bare tree branch at Easter, or all year long.
  2. When placing the chrismon on the tree, use regular ornament hangers to attach to the small loops and then hang on the tree. To prevent breakage, do not try to force the small loops over the limbs of the tree.
  3. The wires are very delicate. Please remind the child not to bend them unnecessarily. If they need shaping after storage, be gentle.
  4. Storage should be in an acid-free box with each one wrapped in either tissue paper or wax paper. They could be put in a plastic container IF wrapped first. They should not come in direct contact with plastic for storage purposed because the plastic will tarnish the beads.
  5. Please keep in a dry, climate-controlled location (like a hall closet) rather than in a hot attic or damp basement.
  6. Keep description/meaning of the chrismon with the box.

If properly cared for, the chrismons will last for years. Enjoy!

With love, from the chrismon ladies.


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