The Origin Of Christmas Bells . . .from the archives

One of the more pleasant sounds we enjoy at Christmas time is the tinkling of Christmas bells.  The  little metal music makers adorn Christmas trees, mantles, wreaths, Christmas cards and other Christmas decorations.

You can hear them peal from church steeples. For ambiance department stores and malls feature bells ringing softly from speaker systems for their shoppers. Sometimes you can hear bell choir concerts in mall food courts and airports and other places where large crowds gather at Christmas. Many Christmas songs include lyrics with or about bells such as Silver Bells, Jingle Bells, Ring the Bells, Carol of the Bells, Jingle Bell Rock, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

I published this post originally on December 19, 2011

Bells are an integral part of worship

and celebration at Christmas. The bells remind us of the atoning blood of Christ that cleansed us from all unrighteousness. We find the origin of their significance in the Day of Atonement performed once each year by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of God.  When the High Priest entered the temple he wore elegant robes and expensive materials–garments made by skilled craftsmen especially (and only for) the day of atonement.

The Bible says that bells were a part of the High Priests sacred garments, “Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die. ” Exodus 28:31-35.

As the High Priest walked around in the holy of holies, sprinkling blood on the mercy-seat, the priests and people outside the Holy of Holies heard the sound of the bells and knew that the High Priest was performing his sacred duties to atone for their sins.  When we hear Christmas bells today, we can remind ourselves of the sacrifice our High Priest, The Lord Jesus Christ, made on the cross to atone, once and for all, for all our sins like the High Priest did once a year.

God is good and perfect. Who knew, besides Him, that the small bells sown into the hem of the high priest’s garments for the Day of Atonement would become such a beautiful part of our Christmas celebration?

We celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. But the next time you hear the beautiful sounds Christmas bells make, think of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross that atoned for all our sins.

6 thoughts on “The Origin Of Christmas Bells . . .from the archives

  1. There is nothing quite so lovely as the melody and harmony of a Bell Choir. Just a note: maybe we get the saying, “I’ll be there with bells on.” came from the same place. That saying never made sense to me, but if you think about it in the context that you have provided today, it does make sense. Thank you for the great insight. God bless you.


  2. Great post. In fact, I’ve been working on a similar post, informing people about the robes of the priests….I got the idea to expound on bells after my post on bells and my son. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Christian Blessings Steve to you and your Loved ones, may the Beauty of Christmas past and the Joy of Christmas present, fill your heart with Love that overflows all year.

    Christ- mas Love Anne.


  4. Hi Steve thank you so much for sharing the origins of the bells, I enjoy discovering how our symbols were first used. I received an e-mail a few years ago which I have also added to but it had a interesting focus on the bells, which can also gel with the origins, I will leave the link for you.

    Blog post- http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/share-with-the-children/

    Some people say that Christmas originated from a Pagan festival but it didn’t as Scripture shows us but even if this day was used by Pagans to worship their god’s it’s what is in our heart and our focus that is important not theirs. Some say Jesus was not born at Christmas Scripture shows us He was.

    Thank you again Steve – Christian Love Anne.


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