One of the best ways to spread the love and good cheer of Christmas with neighbors and other members of your community is by displaying large outdoor Christmas decorations.
Large outdoor Christmas decorations not only show that you celebrate Christmas but that you want the world to celebrate with you. It is a gesture of love and joy that adds to the festive nature of the season.
Think back to when you were a child. If you are like most Americans, you remember seeing bright, colorful lights on neighbor’s houses, large Christmas figures out in neighboring front lawns, huge evergreen wreaths, and large outdoor nativity sets portraying the birth of Jesus.
These cheerful and often colorful exhibits decorated private homes, store windows, office buildings, church parking lots, and public spaces. Today, the tradition of outdoor decorating for Christmas is more popular than ever.
According to the Pew Research Center, nine out of every 10 Americans (92 percent) celebrate Christmas, and many of them enjoy continuing the holiday traditions they followed as a child. Let’s look at the various forms of large outdoor Christmas decorations and at how you can incorporate them into your holiday celebration.
Large Outdoor Trees
Although we think of the Christmas tree as an indoor decoration, lighting a fir tree on your property makes for a wonderful outdoor holiday display.
Fir trees have been used for centuries as part of winter celebrations. Pagans brought fir tree branches inside their homes during the winter solstice as a sign that spring would be coming. Ancient Romans used fir trees to adorn their temples at the festival of Saturnalia.
Christians adopted the evergreen tree for Christmas as a sign of everlasting life with God.
Early Christmas trees were decorated with edible ornaments such as nuts and apples. In early church dramas during the Middle Ages, fruit on the tree was used to represent the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The more elaborately decorated Christmas tree can be traced to German artisan guilds during the Renaissance.
Small presents were hung on Christmas trees in Victorian times, and candles were placed on branches to add light. Electric lights eventually replaced candles, which were a fire hazard, and today, many people enjoy lighting up large trees – both indoors and outdoors – with colorful strings of lights to welcome the season.
Large outdoor Christmas trees also are sold in plastic and resin, in wooden cutouts and in inflatable form for holiday displays.
Large Outdoor Wreaths
Throughout history, the wreath has symbolized power and strength. Wreaths were used in rituals for bountiful harvests. Animists often used evergreen wreaths to symbolize the fortitude needed to live through a harsh winter.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, leaders often wore laurel wreaths as crowns, and Olympic athletes were crowned with wreaths as a sign of victory.
Wreaths have long been used in funerals as a symbol of everlasting life, and the Christmas evergreen wreath picks up on this theme. The wreath’s circular shape, which has no beginning or end, represents Christ and his never-ending love.
Christmas wreaths come in many styles and designs. Many families enjoy having a wreath on their front door at Christmastime, but you can also hang large wreaths on large outdoor locations, such as on tree trunks, sides of buildings, large windows, garages, and barns. Office buildings often use large outdoor wreaths as holiday decorations.
Large Outdoor Santas
If you like adding a whimsical touch to your outdoor display, large figures of Santa and his sleigh or of Santa’s reindeer may be right for you.
Loosely based on Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian who gave presents to children in need, Santa Claus and his night of gift giving on Christmas Eve has become an enduring symbol of the Christmas season. In his 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” Clement Clarke Moore made the “little old elf” more popular than ever before.
Today, Santa Claus as a stand-alone figure or along with his reindeer and sleigh are popular large outdoor Christmas decorations.
Large Santas come in just about every shape and size to fit on your lawn, on your doorstep and on your roof. You can find large Santas in plastic and resin form, in lighted outline form, in inflatable balloon form, in large wood cutouts and in just about every other way you can think of.
Large Outdoor Cartoon Characters
Because Christmas is a special time for children, some of the best outdoor Christmas decorations look to capture the imagination of children. Disney, comic, and storybook characters are popular choices for large outdoor Christmas decorations.
TV holiday cartoon classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman are also popular choice for large outdoor Christmas decorations. These figures are available as large inflated sculptures and as large plastic or resin figures. Some are life-like and moveable, and others are large wood cutout figures.
Outdoor Light Displays
By the early 20th century, strings of electric lights were commonly used to decorate indoor Christmas trees. Then by the middle of the century, Christmas celebrants began to use strings of white and colorful lights to decorate the exteriors of their homes and businesses.
As portrayed in the 1989 comedy National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, some people go all out with the amount of lights they use to decorate their homes for Christmas
Light displays have become so popular that many communities have both formal and informal contests for the best Christmas lights in the area. Some newspapers and websites publish driving maps to the best light displays in town. Zoos and public parks often decorate their grounds with intricate light displays for the holiday season.
By the year 2000, the custom of decorating homes and businesses had spread to non-Western locations, including Japan and Hong Kong.
LED Christmas lights have been growing in popularity in recent years recently. LED (light emitting diode) lights give off less heat than incandescent bulbs and are much more energy efficient. Because of their cost, lights are an efficient way to create large outdoor Christmas decorations.
Large Outdoor Nativity Sets
If you are looking to keep Christ in your Christmas, there is no better way to tell the world than with a large outdoor nativity set.
The use of figures to depict the night of Christ’s birth dates back many centuries. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with popularizing the nativity scene with a live display he coordinated in 1223 in Greccio, Italy. However, statues of the Holy family had been part of early church dramatizations before 1223.
Large outdoor nativity sets vary in size and shape, according to the location and the needs of the home or property owner. Figures can range from larger than life-size to just a foot tall. Materials include plywood, PVC plastic, metal, and resin. Large inflatable outdoor nativity sets also are available.
Outdoor Nativity Store, a family-owned online retailer of Christian yard art based in Gardena, California, creates and sells durable outdoor nativity scenes at affordable prices. Most Outdoor Nativity Store products are made with all-weather PVC plastic and printed with UV-resistant inks to resist fading. They are designed for fast and easy set-up with simple tools such as a hammer or mallet.
Customers can purchase a basic Holy Family Scene (Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus and the stable) and then add separate pieces if they wish, or they may begin with a complete nativity scene that also includes the three kings, a shepherd, two sheep, a camel, a donkey and an angel.
When you display a large outdoor nativity set, you show the world the true meaning of Christmas.
The Meaning of Large Outdoor Christmas Decorations
In a world that is filled with despair in the form of disease, crime, war, addictions and other forms of pain and loss, that message of hope and love is a true light in the darkness. Decorating the inside of your home or office shines that light for your family and workers. However, decorating the exterior of your home or business with large outdoor Christmas decorations shines that light for all the world to see.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (NIV)