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History of the 12 Days of Christmas: They’re after Christmas?

December 15, 2019

THE HISTORY OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS The Twelve Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical or ecclesiastical calendar of the Western Church between the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child (Christmas Day, December 25) and the coming of the Wise Men, or Magi, to visit at his house in Bethlehem (Epiphany, January 6). The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates during Epiphany rather than the Western Christmas Day. In Hispanic and Latin American culture, January 6th is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the “Day of the Kings.” Question 1 Aren’t the Twelve Days of Christmas…

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History of Santa Lucia: Luciadagen — St. Lucy’s Day

December 13, 2019

History of Santa Lucia. Who is St Lucy and how does Sweden’s Luciadagen relate to Sicily? #HistoryOfTheHolidays

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History of the Poinsettia: The Christmas Flower

December 12, 2019

History of the Poinsettia: the history of the “Christmas flower” from its origin in Mexico to its popularity in the US. #HistoryOfTheHolidays

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History of the Christmas Tree

December 11, 2019

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. He replaced the sacrifices to the Norse god Odin’s sacred oak — some say it was Thor‘s Thunder Oak — by a fir tree adorned in tribute to the Christ Child. The legend is told that Boniface found a group of “pagans” preparing to sacrifice a boy near an oak tree near Lower Hesse, Germany. He cut down the oak tree with a single stroke of his…

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History of the Christmas Creche: the Manger scene

December 10, 2019

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 of the manger on the first Christmas at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model, set up in the home or a large scene set up at a church or lawn. Europe The word crèche is the French word for a manger. Several years ago I was in Paris at Notre Dame. On display in the cathedral was a large creche that features a miniature scene of the village of…

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History of A Charlie Brown Christmas

December 9, 2019

HISTORY OF A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered on CBS TV as a 30-minute animated Christmas special written by Charles M. Schulz, creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. The comic was hugely popular at the time when the TV special debuted on December 9, 1965. Though this was not Shulz’s first TV special — that would be 1963’s “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”– nor the last, it would become the most enduring. It is a staple of holiday viewing today, and Christmas is not complete without gathering the family and friends around the TV to watch it.…

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History of A Sacred Oratorio: How was popular Christmas music considered scandalous and profane?

December 8, 2019
Covent Garden Theatre inside

HISTORY OF A SACRED ORATORIO The genteel reception accorded the original debut performance stood in marked contrast to the savage hostility which greeted the work less than a year later in the Royal Opera House, at Covent Garden, London. The English aristocracy and churchmen began an unrelenting campaign against the work and its creator. They labeled it “a profanation,” scandalized at “the sacrilege of converting the Life and Passion of Christ into a theatrical entertainment.” Some clergymen objected so strongly to the idea of printing the actual title on the program that the author was obliged to announce his great…

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History of Santa Claus: Saint or Elf?

December 6, 2019

HISTORY OF SANTA CLAUS December 6 is “Saint Nicholas Day.” The name Santa Claus is a kind of a contraction for Saint Nicholas, the German name Sankt Nikolaus can be pronounced San’t(a) ni-KLOuse (sounding like house.) Origin He was born in the late 3rd century, perhaps in A.D. 270. Nicholas became a bishop in Greece and gained distinction in the councils of the church. He was especially famed for unexpected gifts and later associated with the giving of presents during the season at the end of the year. “I am Nicholas, a sinner, Nicholas, servant of Christ Jesus.”  the old saint would say. He…

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History of Christmas Music: More than just Carols?

December 5, 2019

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC Music early became a marked feature of the Christmas season. But the first chants, litanies, and hymns were in Latin and deemed too theological for popular use. Under the influence of Francis of Assisi in the 13th century, we began to see the rise of the carol written in the vernacular. The word carol comes from the Greek word choraulein. A choraulein was an ancient circle dance performed to flute music. In the Middle Ages, the English combined circle dances with singing and called them carols. Later, the word carol came to mean a song in which a…

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History of the 12 Days of Christmas: They’re after Christmas?

December 15, 2019

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

Read More

History of Santa Lucia: Luciadagen — St. Lucy’s Day

December 13, 2019

History of Santa Lucia. Who is St Lucy and how does Sweden’s Luciadagen relate to Sicily? #HistoryOfTheHolidays

Read More

History of the Poinsettia: The Christmas Flower

December 12, 2019

History of the Poinsettia: the history of the “Christmas flower” from its origin in Mexico to its popularity in the US. #HistoryOfTheHolidays

Read More

History of the Christmas Tree

December 11, 2019

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. He replaced the sacrifices to the Norse god Odin’s sacred oak — some say it was Thor‘s Thunder Oak — by a…

Read More

History of the Christmas Creche: the Manger scene

December 10, 2019

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 of the manger on the first Christmas at Bethlehem. A creche can be a small model, set up in the home or a large scene set…

Read More
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