Thursday, 3 December 2009
Here's a few of favorite inexpensive gift ideas...
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The feast was initially based on, and viewed as a fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Lights known as Chanukah. This was fixed on January 6 , but over time the western churches decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The eastern churches continued to treat January 6 as the day marking Jesus's birth. This has given rise in the west to the notion of a twelve day festival, starting on December 25 and ending on January 6, called the twelve days of Christmas.
Feasting And Merrymaking
In the Middle Ages, this period was one of continuous feasting and merrymaking, which climaxed on Twelfth Night, the traditional end of the Christmas season. During the twelve days of Christmas, traditional roles were often relaxed, masters waited on their servants, men were allowed to dress as women, and women as men. Often a Lord of misrule was chosen to lead the Christmas revels. Some of these traditions have an echo in modern day pantomime where traditionally authority is mocked and the principal male lead is played by a woman, while the leading older female character, or 'Dame' is played by a man.
This period is referred to in the song Twelve Days of Christmas. Twelve Days of Christmas is a traditional Christmas song, or Christmas Carol. The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days from December 25 to January 6 or the Twelfth Night. The date of the song's first performance is not known, though it was used in European and Scandinavia traditions as early as the 16th century.
The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…" The "true love" mentioned in the song refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
1st Day: The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross.
2nd Day: The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day: The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love.
4th Day: The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
5th Day: The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day: The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day: The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day: The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
9th Day: The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day: The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments.
11th Day: The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day: The 'twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles' Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
Because of the lack of Biblical instructions, Christmas rituals have been shaped by the religious and popular traditions of each culture that celebrates the holiday. Traditionally, the sacred Christmas season starts with Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and continues to Christmas Day. The sacred season ends on Epiphany, January 6.
During Advent, Christians make preparations for the commemoration of Jesus' birth on December 25. Each of the four weeks symbolizes a different way in which believers perceive Christ: through the flesh, the Holy Spirit, death, and Christ's judgment of the dead. The Advent wreath, which consists of four candles anchored in a circle of evergreen branches, originated with German Lutherans; the tradition has been adopted by many churches and families. At the beginning of each of the four weeks preceding Christmas, Christians light an Advent candle as they say a prayer.
On the Christmas Eve, churches around the world hold evening services. At midnight, most Catholic and many Protestant churches hold special candlelight services. The Catholic "Midnight Mass" was first introduced by the Roman Catholic Church in the 5th century. Christmas Masses are sometimes solemn and sometimes buoyant, depending on the particular culture that conducts them. On this day the worshipers enter the church in communal processions. Church services often feature candlelight and music. Some also include a dramatization of the Biblical story of Jesus' birth.
Christmas observances have also assimilated remnants of ancient rituals such as the custom of burning Yule logs; the Yule log symbolizes the victory of light over the darkness of winter. The tradition of lighting the Yule log is still observed, especially by Europeans. Families light the log on Christmas Eve and keep it burning until Epiphany.
The Exchange Of Gifts
Christians traditionally exchange gifts as a reminder of God's gift of a savior to humankind. Gift giving also recalls an ancient Roman custom of exchanging gifts to bring good fortune for the new year. In most cultures that celebrate Christmas, a mythical figure delivers gifts to children. Since the 19th century, Santa Claus and other mythical gift givers have become increasingly gentle, generous, and forgiving.
With the passage of time, the nature of Christmas celebration has undergone tremendous change and every year a new tradition begins. Christmas, celebrated to remember and honor the birth of holy Jesus, has evolved from a staunch religious affair into a merry hearted event that include carnivals, cookies and off course Santa Clause.
The Traditional Elements Of Christmas:
The burning of the Yule Log was taken from ancient sun worship rituals. Yule Logs are supposed to be cut from red oak trees and burned all of Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day.
Christmas has been widely associated with snow fun activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sled riding, snow mobile riding, or hiking with snowshoes.
To worship evergreen holly is taken as a sign of eternal life because it did not brown or die in the winter. Some religious groups say that the crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head was made of holly. The berries were supposedly white but turned bright red from Jesus' blood.
Mistletoe is rarely used in churches because it comes from the ancient Druid ceremony celebrating winter solstice. This once pagan tradition started when a girl would stand beneath the hanging plant and a boy would walk up, pick a berry and then kiss her.
There is no exact date recorded but the idea of leaving cookies for Santa started sometime in the 1930's. Naughty kids use them to bribe Santa at the last minute and nice kids use them as a way of thanking him for all his hard work on Christmas Eve.
'Santa' has been around since the 4th century. Originally known as Saint Nicholas, the patron of children and sailors, the bishop was immortalized because of his generous and loving nature towards children.
The very first person to have Christmas lights on their tree was Edward Johnson who worked for Thomas Edison. The use of decorative light has been imperative on the Christmas Day.
The tradition of the Christmas tree comes from Germany. The very first trees were oak, the same tree used for the Yule Log. Trees have been a symbol of good luck since the Middle Ages.
The custom of singing Christmas carols is said to have come from 13th century Italy where a man named St. Francis of Assisi led songs of praise. It is very bad luck to send carolers away empty handed. It is customary to offer food, drink or even a little money.
The invention of Rudolph was an advertising gimmick. The red-nosed reindeer was born in 1939 when a 34-year old writer for Montgomery Ward named Robert L. May was asked to invent a Christmas story. The company gave copies of the story to customers during the holiday season as a promotion for their stores.