Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

The Russian president noted the huge and unique role of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Christian denominations in reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage

Source: TASS: Society & Culture – Putin congratulates Russians on Christmas

Wishing all our Eastern Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters, in Russia and elsewhere, a holy and blessed Feast of the Nativity!

And may I also express my fervent wish that the political and other elites of the Western world – in both Europe and America – placed a similarly high priority of “reviving high moral values and preserving rich historic and cultural heritage.”

In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

Source: In Pictures: Orthodox Christmas celebrations

For us in the West, using the Gregorian calendar, today is the Feast of the Epiphany; but for our Eastern Orthodox Christian friends – in Russia and elsewhere – who still use the Julian reckoning, today is Christmas Eve! Wishing all of them blessings on this Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Rejoice! Christ, our Saviour, is born!

Wassailing through History

Source: Wassailing through History on the Colonial Williamsburg Official History & Citizenship Site

‘Tis the season of Wassail, a custom which for hundreds of years has been linked with the Midwinter holidays — Christmas (Yuletide) and, more recently, New Year’s. Here is a reasonably detailed, yet readable and (to me at least) quite fascinating historical discussion of the custom, courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation!

The Christmas Broadcast, 1957 – YouTube

My good friend Ryan Hunter shared this and noted:

From Her Majesty The Queen’s first televised Christmas broadcast of 1957 Addressing the phenomenon of popular new technologies (like TV) and the suddenly “new world” in which postwar Britain found itself, Her Majesty said:

“I’m not surprised that many people feel lost, and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard, and how to take advantage of this new life without losing the best of the old. But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery. They would have religion thrown aside; morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness, and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint. At this critical moment in our history, we will certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we just abandon those fundamental principles which guided the men and women who built the greatness of this country…”

Wise words, as is commonly the case where Her Majesty is concerned!

O Holy Night : Kings College, Cambridge

While all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from Heaven, out of thy royal throne. Alleluia! (traditional Christmas antiphon)

O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine with the illumination of the true Light: Grant us, we beseech thee, that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth, so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven; where with thee and the Holy Spirit he liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ, our Saviour, is born! Alleluia!

Wishing all my readers a merry, holy, and blessed Christmas.

The Christmas Truce of 1914 (as portrayed in Sainsbury’s Christmas 2014 Ad)

I absolutely love this ad, and even more, the historical episode it portrays: the Great Christmas Truce of 1914, which for a few brief, shining hours, stopped one of the most horrific and destructive wars in history – certainly in European history – in its tracks. Before they were forced back to killing each other by their “superiors,” the ordinary soldiers of the British and German Armies enjoyed a brief respite from the fighting… and a brief vision of one another as fellow humans, and European brothers.

If only the spirit of that moment could have somehow taken hold, been built upon, perhaps the terrible destruction and loss of the flower of European youth – the “death of a generation” – at Verdun, the Somme, and other battles, might have been prevented. And perhaps, just perhaps, the continued suffering and loss which has followed – World War Two, the Cold War, and Europe’s present crisis – might also have been prevented…

A heartwarming, yet heartbreaking, story.