History of Childermas: Feast of the Holy Innocents

Childermas

HISTORY OF CHILDERMAS: FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS Childermas, from an Old English word meaning the Mass of the Infants, is the festival in the church calendar begun in the fifth century. It is celebrated in the Western Church on December 28 and in the Eastern Church on December 29. It is also known as…

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History of Caesar Augustus: What Did He Have To Do With Christmas?

augustus caesar

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS: CAESAR AUGUSTUS The first historical character mentioned in the Nativity story in St. Luke‘s narrative of the first Christmas was neither Jewish nor a shepherd nor a Magi. Instead, he was 1,500 miles away, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, after whom the month of August is named (though he was born on…

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History of the Christmas Star: Natural or supernatural?

Christmas Star

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR: NATURAL OR SUPERNATURAL? 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,…

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History of Christmas Traditions: some pre-Christian?

Holly

HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS Many of the customs that we commonly associate with Christmas come from previous pagan or pre-Christian European backgrounds. Let’s look at some of these familiar traditions and some connections to other folklore elements with which we may be unfamiliar.   Christmas Traditions The word Yule comes from the Germanic jōl or the…

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History of the Christmas Creche: Origin of the Manger scene

Creche

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE: ORIGIN OF THE MANGER SCENE One of the most enduring 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…

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History of Mistletoe: Why is it the Kissing plant?

Mistletoe

HISTORY OF MISTLETOE We’ve mentioned elsewhere that mistletoe was prominent in the traditions of the Druids and the lore of northern Europe. The Druids used the mistletoe of their sacred oak as part of their ritual five days after the new moon following the Winter Solstice. In the Middle Ages, it was hung from ceilings or…

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

Partridge

THE HISTORY OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS: THEY’RE AFTER CHRISTMAS? The 12 Days of Christmas are the dozen days in the liturgical (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…

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