On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
January 3rd is here and so this is the “Tenth Day of Christmas.” To tell the truth all this Christmas-ing and celebrating is making me wee bit tenth myself! All these birds and people bouncing about would make for once hectic household. In the tradition of the twelve days of Christmas this day – like yesterday – seems rather ambiguous. Perhaps a day for quiet reflection. In the official Christian feast days today is the Feast of St. Genevieve. Genevieve is the patron Saint and protector of Paris.
Apparently St. Genevieve lived in Paris in the during the 400’s when there was much turmoil across Europe. Much like today where hordes of bankers and money-lenders pillage the land. Back then it was Attila the Hun, and other wandering barbarians like the Visigoths. Huh – now that I think about it not much has really changed.
St. Genevieve apparently acted as what we would call today a “human rights worker” by making sure that food and aid went to those in desperate need of help. The directly Saintly part comes later after her death when she is credited (through prayer) with helping avert a medical disaster that was sweeping through Paris.
In the USA today is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. I had no idea we actually celebrated such rare and treasured parts of our North American culture. So raise a chocolate covered cherry and enjoy. These are deadly little confections of delight – so I would suggest controlling your access to these treats.
Given how the days seem to trail off into ambiguity and mostly “meh” I can see why we rarely celebrate all twelve days any more. It does get better so please do bear with me as we get through the final days of Christmas!
Here is hoping you enjoy the Tenth day of Christmas – with a cherry on top!
On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
nine ladies dancing…
January 2nd is here and so this is the “Ninth Day of Christmas.” One would think after all these festivities and frolics of the previous days, it would be difficult to find nine ladies dancing. On the other hand after all the food and drink of the the last few weeks – perhaps dancing is just what the personal trainer ordered!
The celebrations and significance of the first eight days of Christmas seems fairly clear. Probably because it is the eight days from Christmas to New Year’s day. January 2nd seems muddled in the meaning of the day. Perhaps that is because after all this celebrating a break is needed!
I find in several references that today is referred to as the Octave of St. Stephen. I had never heard of an Octave before in the spiritual sense – only in the musical sense! An Octave in the sense of the Christian Church is a period of eight days focused on the contemplation of a particular concept. The Octave of St. Stephen seems to be focused on the concept of sacrifice and devotion. As the Octave of St. Stephen is also overlayed with the Octave of the Christmas (which runs from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day) it seems the celebration of St. Stephen is subsumed by the larger events.
Today is also in the feast day of St. Basil the Great. St. Basil was an important scholar on early Church doctrines. Many of his writings shaped the thought of the early Church, and helped clarify many of the concepts central to Christianity. He is recognized as an important theologian by all branches of Christianity, and venerated by both the Orthodox and Catholic branches of Christianity.
St. Basil was born into wealth and privilege. Through that advantage of birth he was gifted with an extensive education in the knowledge of the world. He was apparently an observant and thoughtful man who applied his learning to morality and ethics. His many homilies on various topics touched on the importance of building community and helping others. His devotion to early Christianity caused him to give away his money to the poor, and to pursue learning and teaching as a way of life for the good of others. His example, and his biography, is perhaps one that should be given to our politicians to remind them of what it means to be “of service to others.”
Looking up foods for today I note that on the USA celebrations listing today is National Buffet Day. That makes perfect sense to me! All those leftovers who needs to cook? Haul out the leftovers and have a smorgasbord!
On the downside some cultures consider today the “unluckiest day of the year.” Mainly because all that good luck of the previous few weeks must be balanced out by fate! Of course that could just be the pessimists in the world looking for an excuse to party.
Hope you are having a Merry New Year on this the second day of the year – and the ninth day of Christmas.
On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
December 30th is here and so this is the “Sixth Day of Christmas.” The day of six geese-a-laying – and well symbolically things align as a flock of geese is a family. On the calendar of feasts days this is the Feast of the Holy Family – and really what is Christmas if not a celebration of family? Now I know some will react and say – but that leaves out so many people that have no family, or have broken families. And here I would remind you that all families are made, and re-made. A family is at first invented by two strangers who by chance and circumstance connect and bond and grow together. These two then draw in others by choice, creation and procreation.
We all come from families and then move ahead and create our own families. And these created families then move ahead – they grow and divide and recreate into new circles of love and caring.
When one stops and thinks of what the Church calls the Holy Family – it is not exactly a traditional family. Here we have a young woman pregnant before marriage, and hurriedly married to an older man willing to act as husband and step-father. In the cultural norms of their historical time period – that was shocking stuff. Yet by all the stories this newly created grouping thrived as a family unit – choosing to be together and struggle together through the unusual circumstances of their story.
The truth about family is this: A family not something created by the bonds of blood and DNA . A family is created by love, respect and entirely by choice. Yes blood may be thicker than water – but blood is still mostly water.
So how to celebrate today? By reaching out to your chosen family. Send an email. Make a call. Stop by and say hello.
Take time to have a meal together – maybe some Middle Eastern cuisine like stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, hummus and flat bread, lentils and rice, or just whatever makes you feel comfort in each other.
Share a cup of tea. Or a glass of wine. And just talk about what was and what is yet to come. Celebrate your successes, and build your dreams. That is what family is all about.
Merry Sixth Day of Christmas to you and your family!
four calling birds wake
me from peaceful dreaming
Herod killed them all
On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Four Calling Birds…
December 28th is here and so this is the “Fourth Day of Christmas.” This day adds a somber connection to the celebration of Christmas as it is the “Feast of the Holy Innocents“, also called the Massacre of the Innocents. The day reflects on the story in the Gospel of Matthew of the slaughter of the male infants by King Herod.
The somber tone of the day is captured in the traditional Christmastide hymn, the Coventry Carol and the words:
Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.
Every year children are the collateral damage of war, and greed. In the midst of all the joy and festivities associated with Christmas time, it is easy to forget, or even avoid, the tragedy and sadness that is also in the world. Individuals will choose to commit terrible acts of madness that leave the rest of the world gasping in shock and horror. How on earth can anyone choose to cause such harm?
On the lighter side of this day – this is also a day to celebrate the joy of our children and the precious life of the future generations. A society, a culture, a civilization is nothing without its children. All the goodness and sanity and wonder of the world is useless unless there is someone to carry on that goodness into the future. We bequeath what we are and what we have learned to our children so they can make something even better.
Within that lighter side of the day some cultures use this day as an opportunity for role reversals. On this day the youngest member of the household rules the day. This may actually be another borrowed aspect of Saturnalia that can be found throughout the Christmas season – when slaves became “masters” for the day. In some countries part of the upside-down aspect of the day is celebrated with “practical jokes” similar to April Fool’s Day.
The traditional food of the day – since it is a day of infants – is anything a baby could eat. Most commonly some type of hot cooked cereal flavoured with sugar and cinnamon. After all the rich foods of the previous days of Christmas a simple bowl of oatmeal might be a welcome change! Add a nice mug of hot milk and one is all set for a nice quiet day of enjoying family.
Wishing you a Peaceful Fourth Day of Christmas!