How America helped revive the Boar’s Head feast | Catholic Herald

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“Yet as with Christmas itself, Anglo-Catholicism and a great many other good things, Romanticism opened up the early 19th century to a rebirth of the Boar’s Head…”

Source: How America helped revive the Boar’s Head feast | Catholic Herald

“The boar’s head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all the land…”

But not so rare, it seems, as it once was!

“Despite the cosmopolitan origins of so much of our distinctly American manner of celebrating Our Lord’s birth, in the popular mind… England is seen as the Christmas country par excellence. And among its customs that we try to emulate – in addition to the aforementioned carols services and the yule log – is the Boar’s Head Festival…

“The late 19th and early 20th centuries in the US saw an explosion of Anglophilia among the ‘better classes’… In this atmosphere, Dr Edward Dudley Tibbits, an Episcopal priest, brought the Boar’s Head tradition in 1892 to the Hoosac School in upstate New York, which he had founded three years previously.”

It was picked up by a number of Episcopal churches and cathedrals, and from thence has spread: “it can now be found at Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches as well… In recent years, it has finally come to a few Catholic churches too.”

I have tended to think of the Boar’s Head Feast as a Twelfth Night (Eve of the Epiphany) custom; but in fact it was not, of old, limited to that occasion. As this article notes, “In medieval England, a highly decorated boar’s head was a centrepiece of Yuletide feasting in abbeys and great halls alike,” although it is true that “it is usually offered during the Twelve Days after Christmas, and so helps emphasise that magical liturgical period between Christmas and Epiphany.”

Like many ancient customs, it may also – as the article again notes – serve as a useful means of evangelization! Such an event may attract those who would be unlikely to darken the doors of a church, under other conditions. And in a jaded, secular, and gloomily (or sometime manically) self-referential age, ancient customs and traditions hold a good deal of appeal, for many, and this trend seems only likely to increase.

And if the seemingly secular jollity points to higher, sacred truths – as the Boar’s Head Feast points to Christmas, and thus, the Incarnation of God’s Incarnate Word in the Person of His Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ – so much the better! For, after all:

“Our steward hath provided this,
In honour of the King of Bliss…

Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino!”

(“The boar’s head I bear, giving praises to the Lord!”)

Deo gratias!

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The Glories of the West: “A Nationalist Christmas: The Glories of Poland!”

Source: A Nationalist Christmas: The Glories of Poland!!! | Dr. Steve Turley

It is one of the great ironies of our present age – though given the way God has been seen to work in history, it should come as no surprise – that it is Eastern and Central Europe that seems to hold the greatest promise for saving the West. Here, thanks to Dr. Steve Turley’s YouTube channel, is a lovely video montage of Christmas in Poland. Enjoy, as our Polish brothers and sister show us how it’s done!

Niech Bóg błogosławi Polsce!

(God bless Poland!)

The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas | Intellectual Takeout

The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas
The man who calls himself “Arthur Pendragon,” one of the more visible proponents of neopaganism in Britain, leads a Winter Solstice ceremony near Stonehenge.

Professor William Tighe argues that, actually, the pagans co-opted it from the Christians.

Source: The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas | Intellectual Takeout

As we approach the Feast of the Nativity – “Christes Messe,” or Christmas – we begin to hear once again the complaints that Christians “stole” Christmas from Pagans, replacing an ancient pre-Christian celebration of the Solstice with the celebration of the Messiah’s birth.

It is unquestionable that many of the symbols and trappings we have adopted for our secular celebrations, from cut greenery to Christmas trees, have pre-Christian roots. And why should they not? In purely secular terms, every culture that moves into a new area adopts elements of what already existed.

And from a theological perspective, as I have mentioned on more than one occasion, the religious impulse comes from God and leads toward God; by that understanding, pre-Christian religions and spiritual traditions were reaching imperfectly toward the truth that Christianity expresses perfectly.

Why, then, should not aspects of those traditions which aren’t intrinsically opposed to the Christian message – and which, as in the case of light born amidst darkness, may even help to explicate it – be “baptized” into it? The answer is obvious: of course they should. Continue reading “The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas | Intellectual Takeout”

Glories of the West: Medieval Carols – A Holy Night (Album)

Source: Medieval Carols – A Holy Night (Album) | YouTube

I have been remiss in posting entries in this category, of late! Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa… Here, in any case, is a wonderful selection of glorious seasonal music, from the medieval West!

  1. Hodie Christus Natus Est
  2. O Nobilis Nativitas/O Mira Dei/O Decus Virgineum/Apparuit
  3. Lux De Luce
  4. Alleluya: A Nywe Werke
  5. Verbum Supernum Prodiens
  6. Balaam De Quo Vaticinans
  7. Ave Maria
  8. Gabriel, Fram Heven-King
  9. Lullay: I Saw A Swete Semly Syght
  10. Prolis Eterne Genitor/Psallat Mater Gracie/[Pes]
  11. Vox Clara, Ecce, Intonat
  12. De Supernis Sedibus
  13. Omnes De Saba
  14. Puellare Gremium/Purissima Mater/[Pes]
  15. Lullay, Lullay: Als I Lay On Yoolis Night
  16. Tria Sunt Munera
  17. Orto Sole Serene/Origo Viri/Virga Lesse/[Tenor]
  18. Peperit Virgo
  19. Ecce Quod Natura
  20. A Solis Ortus Cardine
  21. Ther Is No Rose Of Swych Vertu
  22. Videntes Stellam
  23. Nowel: Owt Of Your Slepe Aryse

The Real 12 Days of Christmas | Christian History

Two Turtledoves

Celebrating Christ’s birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season.

Source: The Real 12 Days of Christmas | Christian History

A wonderful essay on exactly what it says: the importance of celebrating the real Twelve Days of Christmas!

Sometime in November, as things now stand, the “Christmas season” begins. The streets are hung with lights, the stores are decorated with red and green, and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing songs about the spirit of the season and the glories of Santa Claus. The excitement builds to a climax on the morning of December 25, and then it stops, abruptly. Christmas is over, the New Year begins, and people go back to their normal lives.

The traditional Christian celebration of Christmas is exactly the opposite. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and for nearly a month Christians await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in 12 days of celebration, ending only on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany.

The “real” 12 days of Christmas are important not just as a way of thumbing our noses at secular ideas of the “Christmas season.” They are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world he made, in the form of a baby.

The Logos through whom the worlds were made took up his dwelling among us in a tabernacle of flesh. One of the prayers for Christmas Day in the Catholic liturgy encapsulates what Christmas means for all believers: “O God, who marvelously created and yet more marvelously restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divinity of him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” In Christ, our human nature was united to God, and when Christ enters our hearts, he brings us into that union.

… and much more wonderfulness. Read, mark, learn , and inwardly digest!

When Christmas Looks Better in Aleppo… | Defend Europa

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Throughout the last few hundred years, Europe has been a place where one could observe the most magical of Christmas scenes… to illustrate just how far we’ve fallen, it’s worth pointing out that one would find a more archetypal Christmas celebration in the Syrian city of Aleppo, rather than Frankfurt or Stockholm.

Source: When Christmas Looks Better in Aleppo… – Defend Europa

I have said for some time that while Bashar al-Assad is not exactly a saint or a schoolboy, he enjoys the support of an overwhelming majority of his countrymen, probably in part – maybe in large measure – because he is a secular, rather than militant Islamic extremist, ruler, who may not tolerate much in the way of dissent, but in exchange protects all of his people, including women, and minority religions like Christianity. And at the moment, it looks like he’s doing a better job of it than most European countries…

Throughout the last few hundred years, Europe has been a place where one could observe the most magical of Christmas scenes. From Germany’s bustling markets, to the snow of Scandinavia and the rich religious celebrations of the Catholic and Orthodox countries, it was never difficult to find a scene worthy of valuable postcard. Today, of course, things are much different. And to illustrate just how far we’ve fallen, it’s worth pointing out that one would find a more archetypal Christmas celebration in the Syrian city of Aleppo, rather than Frankfurt or Stockholm.

That’s right; Syria’s once war-ravaged city is today the scene of an archetypal Christmas. They erect a huge, wonderfully lit tree in the city’s central square, as various groups in Santa costumes and elf imitations are busily engaged in entertaining the children. Even the churches are full, with vicars and priests holding open, welcoming public services including midnight mass and family services on Christmas Eve. There are no barriers to prevent truck attacks, very few visible security officers and certainly none armed to the hilt, as we could easily expect to see in Birmingham or Berlin.

Of course, there was once a time when many wondered if Aleppo would ever celebrate Christmas again. From 2012 to late 2016, the city was occupied by “rebel” forces – such as the US-backed Free Syrian Army, and the internationally acclaimed White Helmets – who, despite their western supporters’ claims to the contrary, were effectively Sunni extremists in the mould of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. Christmas was strictly forbidden, and Burkas rigorously enforced. Under the guise of “pro-democracy” demonstrations, the so-called rebel groups had established an Islamist regime in which Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities were treated no better than slaves.

Yet on 22nd December 2016, the Syrian Arab Army finally recaptured the city in its entirety. After permitting the rebels a route out of the city – when most commanders would have been more inclined toward total annihilation – Assad’s forces finally flushed the remaining Islamist pigs from the city, with the assistance of the Russian Air Force. And what was the first act of the authorities once liberation had been secured? Renovating the Mosques? No; celebrating Christmas. Reopening the churches, decorating the square, erecting the tree – all courtesy of Assad’s regime…

And the trend continues, this year, as the above Tweet indicates. As a different Twitter commenter posted,

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Sadly, no, I do not.