24 December 2012

24 December - Christmas Eve

Weather: As the weather is on St. Adam and Eve, so will it be until the end of the month, and also will be mostly throughout the next year.  [In the traditional calendar, today was dedicated to our first parents, Adam and Eve.]

If Christmas Eve is bright and clear, then follows a very fruitful year.

When on Christmas night and evening it is very fair and clear weather, and is without wind and rain, then it is a token that this year will have plenty of wine and fruit.  [Come on, fair and clear!]
If it is foul weather and windy, so shall the year be very scant of wine and fruit. [Boo!]
If the wind should arise at the rising of the sun, then there will be a great dearth of cattle. [Boo!]
If the wind should arise at the setting of the sun, then there will come death to kings and other leaders. [Okay, I’m not sure I’d mind this too much… not that I wish death on anyone, not even our own Dear Leader.]

[Today, so far, has been very fair and clear, and no wind.  Huzzah!  However, the weather reports say that we shall have ‘wintery conditions’ this evening late until tomorrow mid-morning.  Well, those who look forward to this kind of thing will have a White Christmas.  The Widow looks forward to plenty of wine and fruit.]

Christmas Eve, Dick!  Christmas, Ebenezer!

Traditionally, as was true of all Vigils before important Feasts, this is a fast day.  We are still in Advent until this afternoon when Vespers or the Vigil Mass of Christmas begins the Great Feast. 

Our Vigil Mass always has the “Children’s Nativity” with several of our little angels (and shepaherds, and Mary and Joseph, and Three Kings, and a really big Star) making their way from one of the many doors of the church to the Manger before the Altar.  So cute. Never know what is going to happen – do we have a cryer this year (faced with the multitude, King #2 wants her Mommy, right now!)  Can we keep the Star from outpacing the Kings, and the Angels from outrunning the Shepherds?  Can we keep them moving so that they will reach Bethlehem before the end of the hymn?   It always works out.  And when that is finished, and the participants return to their families, Mass begins.

And what a rejoicing it is.  After Advent (“It’s not penitential!” “Yeah, right.”), days (weeks, for some) of fasting and abstinence and getting ourselves ready for His coming, Christmas is here!  Our Lord has come and our joy rings to the rafters!

Sour ol’ Naogeorgus in the 16th century couldn’t stand all this flummery.  First he makes fun of the credulous who believe in miracles, then calumnates the priests on the score of stealing the offerings for use in gambling, and ends by rolling his eyes at the congregation standing around a crèche and singing hymns and carols.  Naogeorgus never died, you know.  He lives today in any media organ you care to name:

“Then comes the day wherein the Lord did bring his birth to pass,
Whereas at midnight up they rise, and every man to Mass.

This time so holy counted is, that diverse earnestly
Do think the waters all to wine are changed suddenly,
In that same hour that Christ himself was born, and came to light,
And unto water straight again transformed and altered quite.

There are beside that mindfully the money still do watch,
That first to altar comes, which then they privily do snatch.
The Priests, lest other should it have, takes oft the same away,
Whereby they think throughout the year to have good luck in play,
And not to lose: then straight at game till daylight do they strive,
To make some present proof how well their hallowed pence will thrive.
Three Masses every Priest doth sing upon that solemn day
With offerings unto every one, that so the more may play.

This done, a wooden child in clouts is on the altar set
About the which both boys and girls do dance and trimly jet,
And carols sing in praise of Christ, and for to help them hear
The Organs answer every verse, with sweet and solemn cheer.
The Priests do roar aloud, and round about the parents stand,
To see the sport, and with their voice do help them and their hand.”

(I am off to cut a few sprigs of holly to decorate my bedstead, and then it will be time to get ready for Mass.)

A blessed Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night.