Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Thursday, December 23, 2010

...Twas the Day Before Christmas....

When did we begin....or how did we begin celebrating Christmas Eve?  Many families....including Frank and I open presents on Christmas Eve.  We do because the kids will be here on Christmas Day evening....and so it is our special time....of course there are only two of us and we could open our presents on December 1st....but is the 24th.  I looked up a little history about Christmas Eve and found it very interesting so I thought I would share it with you....Did you know that for centuries, Christmas was celebrated not as a single day, but as a whole season in parts of the world, beginning with this day, December 24, Christmas Eve. Perhaps the practice of celebrating the evening before the big day is an echo from ancient Jewish reckoning. Among earlier Jews, a day began at six in the evening and ran until six the following evening. Had not Moses written: "An evening and a morning were the first day"? Christmas means "Christ mass." Although the date is a guess, the tradition of observing it goes back to at least the fourth century. Under the influence of the church, Christian traditions replaced pagan solstice festivals throughout Europe. Often the more innocent pagan practices (such as bringing in a Yule log, decorating with holly and the like) were carried over into the Christmas observance, transfigured with new meaning. Christmas Eve (the evening before Christmas day) was then celebrated with roaring fires, story-telling, feasting, drinking, dancing, and sometimes clowning. Sir Walter Scott described its festive air in a poem:
On Christmas Eve, the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve, the mass was sung.
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen,
the hall was dressed with holly green;
 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.

Things weren't always so pleasant, however. On Christmas Eve, 1521, with the Reformation gaining steam in Germany, crowds rioted in Wittenberg. Against the orders of Elector Frederick, Andreas Carlstadt had given them both the bread and wine at mass. Zealous for more "reformation," the mob smashed church lamps, sang ridiculous songs to drown out the choir and intimidated the priests.  Luther is supposed to have cut the first Christmas tree. The story may be apocryphal, but we know that on Christmas Eve, 1538, he was in a jolly mood, singing and talking about the incarnation. Then he sighed, saying, "Oh, we poor men, that we should be so cold and indifferent to this great joy which has been given us."Despite Luther's lament, others would make warm memories on Christmas Eve. In his memoirs, Sir John Reresby told how he invited his poor tenants for a feast on Christmas Eve, 1682. During World War I, the famous Christmas Truce began for many troops on Christmas Eve, 1914, demonstrating the power for good that is inherent in the season.  For a season that is so know Santa, a special baby being born, family and was startling to me to see that Christmas has had some not so spectacular things happen on it.  As you begin your day....hug your loved ones, enjoy the magic of the moment, say a prayer for those who are sick or away from their families right now....and be a little kinder to everyone!  Merry Christmas Eve to All!


Mary said...

Sorry we missed each other (again!)! I called your phone and left a message. Maybe next time when there's more time!
Have a Merry Christmas!

sara said...

This was so interesting!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!