We still have six days left – let’s enjoy them!
We still have six days left – let’s enjoy them!
Celebrating Christ’s birth with saints of the faith during the actual Christmas season.
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!
~ by Sir Walter Scott (1808)
Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone:
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While Scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair’.
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death to tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek’d; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry makers in,
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.
And let us not forget, dear friends, that this is but the first of Twelve Days of Christmas: today is Christmas Day, but that is only the first day of Christmastide, which extends from today all the way through Twelfth Night – January 5th, the Eve of Epiphany!
Good morrow, all, and Merry Christmas! And to my Christian friends, Gloria in excelsis Deo! Our Saviour is born! Wishing you a joyful, holy, and blessed Feast of the Nativity!
Good Christian men, rejoice!
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say:
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before him bow,
And he is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!
Or, in the words of the ancient Christmas antiphon on the Magnificat:
This day the Christ is born. This day the Savior is appeared. This day the angels sing praise in the earth and the Archangels rejoice. This day the righteous are glad and say: Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia, alleulia.
“As early as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Mary was regarded as the ‘new Eve.’ In the East, where Andrew of Crete and John of Damascus had extolled the perfect sinlessness of Mary as implicit in the title Theotokos, the commemoration of her conception was known from the seventh century. The observance of the feast spread to the West and is attested in England by the first half of the eleventh century…
“In both the Eastern and the Western teachings, Mary did not remain sinless through her own moral effort (for that would be Pelagianism), but through the grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
“While Anglican teaching does not accept the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and has never pronounced officially on Mary’s state regarding sin, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was restored to the sanctoral calendar of the Church of England in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.”
Wishing all my American friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving, and traveling mercies if you are visiting relatives or friends to celebrate! And as we celebrate the blessings and bounties we enjoy, let us not fail to remember and pray for those less fortunate.
Propers for Thanksgiving Day, With Additional Prayers.
¶ Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung.
O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the return of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.