|The peace wreath pictured above came from the Paint Me Plaid website.
The peace symbol grew out of the British anti-nuclear movement in the late 1950s. From docspopuli.org:
One of the most widely known symbols in the world, in Britain it is recognised as standing for nuclear disarmament -and in particular as the logo of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). In the United States and much of the rest of the world it is known more broadly as the peace symbol. It was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, a professional designer and artist and a graduate of the Royal College of Arts. He showed his preliminary sketches to a small group of people in the Peace News office in North London and to the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, one of several smaller organisations that came together to set up CND.
The Direct Action Committee had already planned what was to be the first major anti-nuclear march, from London to Aldermaston, where British nuclear weapons were and still are manufactured. It was on that march, over the 1958 Easter weekend that the symbol first appeared in public. Five hundred cardboard lollipops on sticks were produced. Half were black on white and half white on green. Just as the church's liturgical colours change over Easter, so the colours were to change, "from Winter to Spring, from Death to Life." Black and white would be displayed on Good Friday and Saturday, green and white on Easter Sunday and Monday. [...]
What does it mean?
Gerald Holtom, a conscientious objector who had worked on a farm in Norfolk during the Second World War, explained that the symbol incorporated the semaphore letters N(uclear) and D(isarmament). He later wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, explaining the genesis of his idea in greater, more personal depth:
I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya's peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.
The early Christians do not appear to have celebrated the birth of Jesus, and a few centuries after he lived, the festival was celebrated at different times in different areas.
Although the Magi are often depicted as three Kings in nativity scenes and Christmas plays, the Bible does not make clear how many kings or wise men came to look for Jesus. Henry Morris posted an interesting discussion here of the wise men and the bright star they supposedly saw in the eastern sky.
This website debunks many common theories about the Star of Bethlehem, including the idea that it was a supernova.
Kenneth Bailey argues in this article that "Jesus was born in a private home and that the 'inn' of Luke 2:7 is best understood as the guest room of the family in whose house the birth took place." He notes that the typical Palestinian home of the time would have a manger "built into the floor of the raised terrace," where animals were brought in at night, and that "a room full of people sleeping together with the animals on a lower level in the same room is snug and comfortable in the eyes of the traditional Middle Eastern gregarious peasant." It is highly unlikely that a hotel-like "inn" as we perceive the concept existed in Bethlehem at that time.