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resources and links > programming > special events/themes> christine's themes >hanging greens

By Christine Jennings




Hanging of the Greens is an English tradition of decorating the home with wreaths, garlands, a Christmas tree, and evergreens for Advent and Christmas.  You can use this same tradition in your facility with your residents. This can bring back some wonderful memories for some and introduce a new tradition to others. This is also a great way to get the entire facility to participate in decorating for the holiday season.

Learn & Listen – Discuss the tradition in hanging the greens with the residents.

Tradition of:

  • Advent Wreath – The evergreen represents everlasting life found in Christ, the circle symbolizes life without end.  The three purple candles in the wreath represent royalty (HOPE), humility (PEACE) and penitence (JOY). The rose-colored candle represents happiness (LOVE). The tall white candle in the center symbolizes God’s special light that has come to a dark world.
  • Candles (you can use the battery operated kind) - Before the celebration of Christmas, candles were used to signify Christ as the light of the world.
  • Bells – Are used to ring in the glad news of the birth of Jesus.
  • Carolers – Sing out the coming of the Savior just like the angel choir sang to the shepherds and the message has been carried on ever since that first Holy night.
  • Gift Giving – The Wise Men wanted to share their love and desire to know the King of Kings so they traveled many miles, risked their life by disobeying King Herod and they presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We continue the gift giving through giving tithes and gifts to family and friends.
  • Candy Cane – The first candy cane was created to honor Jesus. The candy maker wanted to honor our Lord so he made a candy in the shape of a shepherd’s staff, when turned upside down it is the letter J for Jesus. The red and white stripes represent the blood of Jesus, which washed away our sins and makes us pure and white as snow. One bold stripe represents God who is the Father of us all. He three fine stripes represent the Trinity: one God, who revealed Himself to us in three ways: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • The Christmas tree symbolizes peace and eternal life.
  • Poinsettias – The star of the leaf represents the star of Bethlehem, the red flower stands for the bloodshed by Jesus who came to be our Savior.
  • Evergreen wreath is an emblem of eternal life and God’s faithfulness to all humanity.

There are various traditions of the Hanging of the Greens and you can Google to learn more about this tradition if you want a deeper understanding of the formal service. Your residents will enlighten you as well from their own personal experience in church.

Consider setting up a separate time and place where the residents and staff can come help place the decoration (use the list above as a guide to schedule to hang each decoration). After each decoration is put in place sing a spiritual Christmas Carol or Hymn, this is the Carolers part of the ceremony and will get everyone excited about the holiday season. You can also serve refreshments to encourage fellowship throughout the day. This alone will be a full day activity and it will decorate the facility to start the holiday celebration.


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