Our family has a longstanding Christmas Day tradition of sharing tangerines before opening our presents. It’s a way to remember our grandparents and great-grandparents who came through many trials and tribulations from Germany to their new home in America.

My grandfather had a grueling job in a Pittsburgh steel mill with very little money to spend on their first Christmas together in their new home in 1927, so the family gave what they could—a special delight from the “tropical land” of Florida. Though they had little, they had each other and a hope that their future would be brighter than their past—and so it was.

It turns out that giving oranges is a popular Christmas tradition around the world. One story tells of the bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas, who heard that a poor man had no dowry for his three daughters’ marriages. St. Nick gave each of the three daughters a bag of gold to help them with their new lives. The oranges remind us of the importance of giving and helping those in need.

You can make a meaningful Christmas decoration with an orange called a Christingle. You take an orange and slice the bottom to make a base for it to stand on. Cut a hole in the top and put a candle in the orange. You can use some aluminum foil to catch any wax that might drip down when it is lit. Then put a red ribbon around the orange. Top the orange off with four kebab sticks that have dried fruit or other goodies skewered through them. (Of course, you need to keep fire safety in mind when doing projects like this with younger children.)

The orange represents the world, the red ribbon the blood and love of Christ, the four sticks represent the four seasons/the four compass directions, the fruit represents the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and the lit candle represents Jesus, the light of the world.