LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Continuing to ponder . . .

As I had been saying before I got distracted by the forthcoming Royal Wedding, it is getting close to what is, at least for us, the ‘New Year’ . . . at least in the context of its being the start of our rational approach to the Church’s year, and in particular to the Nativity of Our Blessed Lord on Christmas Day.

(And, incidentally, it will also, next year, also be the latest possible Easter . . . and if memory serves, none of us now alive will ever see it so long again; for what relevance or importance that may be !)

But why is it important ? Well, I suppose in the overall scheme of things, probably not at all : and yet I do think that there is much merit in Catholic Christians trying very hard to hang on to the Church’s teaching, and trying very hard not to start thinking about it even before Advent, and then letting it all rapidly disappear straight after the Festival . . . I remember realizing just how little attention there really was when I was in the US for a while : there, what we in the UK call ‘Boxing Day’ is irrelevant, and the post-Christmas sales start early – and universally – on 26 December.

So, I do see merit it trying to hang on to the traditional idea of Christmas beginning, rather than ending, at the Feast, I am at least sticking to the traditional religious viewpoint . . . .not to mention adhering to the principle which (to the best of my knowledge and belief) still remains true in the British Royal Family, where the cribs, and trees, only go up just before the Festival, and then remain there until Candlemas . . . as they should.

I know that looks as though we’re just trying to be difficult, and try and cause problems . . . but are we ? After all : it is a religious feast, which has been there for two thousand years . . . so is it so unreasonable to want it to keep in step with the event, and the significance, that it’s really about ?

Personally, I don’t think so.


  1. Not quite right with your comments about the date of Easter.

    The latest it can fall is one day later than next year, i.e. the 25th April. That will happen next in 2038 and last happened in 1943. Next year's date, the 24th April will not occur again until 2095. (Interestingly, again Julian Calendar Easter falls on the same date, April 11th o.s.) Next year will definitely be my only chance to see Easter on that date!

  2. It is our tradition, in my home, and that of my parents, and theirs (going back to the 1890s!) to put up the Christmas tree and decorations on Christmas Eve. It makes me the least charitable person on the planet and I dread unexpected visitors on the 24th because this job can take hours, and in our case, requires furniture removal, tottering tree holders, nails in the walls (won't take pins!) et al.

    The crib would appear an hour or so before Midnight Mass - all present except the Baby Jesus, who would be placed there when we returned home.

    In my childhood the decorations typically came down on the 7th Jan. - once Epiphany was over. We have long ago begun to keep them up until the Baptism of the Lord - or the end of the Liturgical Season of Christmas.

    Only on two occasions did I leave them up until Candlemas. One of the reasons I haven't done this every year is that all my kind neighbours just assumed I was so busy that I forgot to remove them!! Another is that the children start to ignore them or take them for granted once they are back at school or work, and they end up looking forlorn.

    So these days, we remove all the cards, tree and decorations, but keep the Nativity scene in place until Candlemas, trying to ensure it is visible through a window!

    I didn't know the Royal Family had this tradition! I must tell my mother. Our family folklore postulates that Princess Margaret was named after her.

  3. The tradition in my family when I was but a wee slip of a lad was that the tree, undecorated, went up a few days before Christmas Eve (whenever my dad had the time to go and get one), and the house and tree decorations went up on Christmas Eve, together with the crib (sans the Child and the wise men). On Christmas Day, the Child was placed in the manger.

    On Twelfth Night, most of the decorations were taken down, with the more time-consuming ones having to wait until the weekend. The crib, now replete with wise men, remained in place until Candlemas.

    These days, I live alone. I don't do much decoration for Christmas, and don't have a tree. However I do have a lot of visitors, and I make the effort to put up a few tasteful decorations (less is more!), and a beautiful hand-carved crib scene takes pride of place for all to see and, perhaps, be moved to prayer.