Dear FLOCK families,
As we near the end of 2020, I am grateful for blessings - especially your family's continued involvement in faith formation at All Saints! Together we explore the mystery of Emmanuel - God with Us - who came to the world as a baby, grew as we all do, and began a powerful ministry of healing, reform and love that would change the world and so many human hearts for the next 2000+ years.
Christmas is a time to celebrate! No matter how our traditions might adjust this year, I think we are all ready to share in the joy of Christ's birth ! On that light note, especially as we fully enflame our Advent candles this Sunday, I leave you with these fun, faith-filled (for the most part) Christmas facts:
1. The word 'Christmas' comes from old English, the Mass of Christ or Christ's Mass. Even the word 'holiday' is derived from the phrase 'Holy Day'.
2. St. Nicholas inspired the modern tradition of stocking-hanging. Bishop Nicholas, the 4th Century Bishop Myra (modern day Turkey), was well-known for his generosity to those in need and his love for children. St. Nick IS Santa Claus. There are many stories of Bishop Nicholas tossing coins through windows into the homes of people in need. Legend says that some coins bounced into the stockings a family had drying by the fireplace. This became the basis of the modern custom of hanging stockings by the mantle for Santa to fill.
3. Candy canes are shaped as shepherd's staffs, because Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Candy canes are traditional red and white striped, with the white symbolizing the purity of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, and the red symbolizing the blood the Lamb shed for our sins. The stripes call to mind the prophecy of Isaiah “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Also, the candy cane upside down looks like the letter 'J' for Jesus.
4. The use of holly at Christmas reflects the Passion. The holly bush used for wreaths is a thorny bush, which symbolizes the crown of thorns Jesus wore during His Passion. The red berries of the holly represent the drops of His blood.
5. Christmas trees symbolize God's everlasting love. The Christmas tree is an evergreen tree to remind us of God's everlasting love. The star we traditionally place on top of the tree symbolizes the star of Bethlehem.
6. Bethlehem in English means "House of Bread".
"I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry". (John 6:35) & "Take this Bread and eat it, It IS my body..." (Mark 14:22)
And the Manger, Christ's first crib, was a lamb's feed box:
"Behold the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world" (John 1:29) & "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)
So, the living Bread was delivered to the House of bread in a food dish for His sheep to eat.
7. The stable where Jesus was born was actually a cave. Because of the terrain and natural conditions of the area, the ancient peoples of Israel had primarily stone buildings, and used natural caves as much as possible.
You can still visit the cave of Christ's birth if you visit the Holy Land. It is a major Shrine and tourist attraction.
8. It is proper to use 'X-mas' as an Abbreviation. The practice goes back to the early monks’ writings. The X is really the Greek Letter Chi (pronounced kie) which was the symbol for Christ--the 1st letter of 'Christos'.
9. The Song 'You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch' wasn't actually sung by Boris Karloff. Who sang the song "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch" in the cartoon? No, not Boris Karloff. Karloff was the only person given voice credit in the film, even though many people were involved. The singer of the famous song is actually Thurl Ravenscroft, better known as the voice of Tony the Tiger in the cereal commercials. ('They'rrrrrrrrrre Great!!!)
10. And finally...there is a ton of Biblical Significance in the 'Twelve Days of Christmas'. To most, it's a delightful nonsense rhyme set to music. But it had a quite serious purpose when it was written. It is a good deal more than just a repetitious melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts. Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from ANY practice of their faith by law - private OR public. It was a crime to BE a Catholic.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "Catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith - a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged. The songs gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn't refer to an earthly suitor, it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.
The other symbols mean the following:
1 Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ, Son of God
2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
**adapted from www.catholic365.com**