Posts by Bill Petro

History of the 12 Days of Christmas: they follow Christmas?

THE HISTORY OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS The Twelve Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church between the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child (Christmas, December 25) and the coming of the Magi to visit at his house in Bethlehem (Epiphany, January 6). The…

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History of the Christmas Creche: the Manger scene

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE One of the most beautiful Christmas traditions is setting up a creche during the Advent season. A creche is a model of the scene at the manger on the first Christmas in the stable at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model, set up in the home or a…

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History of King Herod: Why was he called Great?

HISTORY OF HEROD THE KING When the wise men asked Herod the King “Where is he who is born king of the Jews?” their question was not really spoken in a vacuum, for even the Roman author Suetonius wrote, “There had spread all over the East an old and established belief that it was fated…

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History of the Christmas Star: Natural or supernatural?

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR The Star of Bethlehem has puzzled scholars for centuries. Some have skeptically dismissed the phenomenon as a myth, a mere literary device to call attention to the importance of the Nativity. Others have argued that the star was miraculously placed there to guide the Magi and is therefore beyond all…

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History of the Magi: The Wise Men

HISTORY OF THE WISE MEN You’re familiar with the song that begins “We Three Kings of Orient Are…” but it is inaccurate in at least three ways. We don’t know how many there were, but we know they weren’t kings. They did not originate in the Orient, meaning the Far East. How could they have…

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History of Chanukah: The Festival of Lights

HISTORY OF CHANUKAH Chanukah is also spelled hanukkah, meaning “dedication.” It begins this year at sundown tonight, December 11 with the last candle being lit on Friday, December 18.┬áThis Jewish holiday traces its roots back more than 2,000 years. At that time the Jewish people were living under the oppressive government of the Syrian ruler…

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History of Santa Lucia

HISTORY OF LUCIADAGEN In Sweden, December 13 is Luciadagen, St. Lucia’s Day, or in English, St. Lucy. It is the beginning of their holiday season. The Lutheran Danes and Norwegians also celebrate this day. St. Lucia was a young woman who lived in first century Rome. She was a Christian who would not give up…

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History of the Christmas Tree

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE It is generally believed that the first Christmas tree was of German origin dating from the time of St. Boniface, English missionary to Germany in the 8th century, who replaced the sacrifices to the Norse god Odin’s sacred oak by a fir tree adorned in tribute to the Christ child.…

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History of A Christmas Carol: A ghost story of Christmas

HISTORY OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL The Christmas season in 1843 saw the publication of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” No other book or story by Dickens or anyone else (except the Bible) has been more enjoyed, criticized, referred to, or more frequently adapted to other media. One of my favorites was watching Patrick Stewart doing…

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