Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Forgotten Holiday

Yeah, I haven't been around much. Life sucks right now, and there isn't much else to say. I'm beginning to go completely insane spending all of this time by myself. I get peaks and glimpses on occasion with extended periods of liberty from my prison, or several kind souls coming in to visit me. Right now, the good news is that my name isn't in the national headlines; know what I mean, Vern?

Maybe our overly, overtly capitalistic society isn't a bad thing. I'm already beginning to be reminded of Christmas. I think that is a wonderful thing. I can already hear you say, "But Jared, you duff, Christmas is still over two months away!" Wait...er...hold on bucko. No it ain't. Let me break it down for ya, traditional style.

For those of us brothers and sisters-in-Christ who attend a non-liturgical church (most of North America, that is), we have no idea what is about to take place. The season of Advent is almost upon us, and have you a clue what it is? According to the oldest traditions, Advent season is 40 days long (due to the biblical significance of the number 40), but it has been shortened to 24 by many, if not most, who celebrate it today. It is rich with spiritual significance in its traditions and celebrations. None of which revolve around gift giving, but focus instead on the season and celebration.

"Wow, Jared! You're the most awesomest ever! You've just given me another 24 to 40 days of Christmas stuff to celebrate." But wait! There's more...

It is commonly believed that the 12 days of Christmas are the 12 leading up to it. Well, allow me to correct that myth for any who believe it. It is the day of Christmas and the 11 following. That gives us 24 to 40 days of Advent, plus Christmas, plus 11 more days of Christmas. And I'm still not done.

The Christmas season is capped off on January 6th with the Feast of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, epiphany referring to the miraculous beholding of the Christ child by the magi (the Bible doesn't say how many were there; rather it only lists three things that were given as gifts. Could've been 9 magi, coulda been 20, coulda been 3; really only God knows at this point). In many countries, January 6 is the day for the gift giving of the Christmas season.

I'll toss in one more cookie for you. December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. You know, the dude Santa Claus is modeled after. Over in Europe, it is a huge freakin' deal. You see Santas all over the place until December 6. Gift giving in most places is done on that day (as opposed to others who do it exactly one month later), and after that, it is all about the Christmas celebration and the Christ child. Pretty cool, huh? So, start a new tradition this year. Pick up a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, which is an Anglican/Episcopal book that really helps to understand what traditions to celebrate in what way on what day during the Advent/Christmas season. Get/Make an Advent wreath. Have Advent/Christmas devotionals. Dare to give gifts on December 6 or January 6. Make a true celebration of what God has done among us. To assist you, here are some resources. I know I'll be different this year. I am starting some traditions that will be continued when babies come along.

http://www.family.org/fofmag/pf/a0026154.cfm
http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Christmas/How.asp
http://personalweb.about.com/od/advent/
http://www.cresourcei.org/cy12days.html
http://churches.wcg.org/akron-oh/articles/rs200112.html
http://www.highpointchurch.org/files/How%20to%20Celebrate%20Advent%20in%20Your%20Home%20News%20letter.pdf
http://www.cresourcei.org/cyadvent.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Days_of_Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_(Christian)
http://www.prosanctity.org/library/spiritual/advent25ways.htm
http://www.explorefaith.org/advent/

And if you are looking for the perfect Christmas/St. Nicholas Day/Feast of Epiphany gift for that special someone in your life, here's an article that will give you a strong, positive hint.

http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/nov2006/gb20061101_223644.htm?chan=search

2 comments:

Kathy Brown said...

I LOVE Advent. Although an atheist until about 3.5 years ago, we grew up with advent calendars (parents both were brought up Catholic). Last year I looked into some advent material -- blogs and such. I did not remember that there were 40 days to it, but I think this is the year for Advent for me. So, this would mean it starts on November 14, right, assuming Christmas is not included in the 40 days?

I'll be doing some research here for sure. Thanks for the resources and thanks for your awesome blogs.

I am praying for you while your life sucks....I notice myself that too much time alone has a direct impact on my thoughts.

Dapoppins said...

Okay, this is very cool. And so good when you have kids for building a foundation that doesn't involve toys and men in red suits.