Around Christmas

We are still in the most wonderful time of the year emphasized now with the ‘harmatan’ dust that has finally come to stay. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have an insight from a nice article we came across on the other significant days around the 25th of December especially since today is one of them.
6th December- Saint Nicholas

This is the feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey). He is known as the patron saint of children. He was said to bring sweets and presents to well behaved children.

When the tradition was imported into USA, St. Nicholas became Santa Claus.

It was formerly customary on this day to elect a boy bishop who would perform a juvenile version of the normal duties and ceremonies of this office excluding celebration of mass until Holy Innocents Day. 

8th December- The feast of the Immaculate Conception.

On this day, Catholics celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Conception without sin.
It is usually preceded with a novena beginning on the 31st of December. 

17th December- Lord of Misrule.

A feast from the Roman times. The Saturnalia festival In honor of the god of agriculture.It was a holiday period for slaves who were waited on by their masters during the period.
It was also customary to appoint a master of revels…a lord of misrule usually from among the slaves and although he was permitted to perform unrestrained, he was usually killed at the end.

21st December (on or near)- Winter Solstice

Another pagan celebration also known as ‘Yule’.
It is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. A celebration of the shortest day and longest night of the year.It is believed that the date of christmas was chosen to offset pagan celebrations of saturnalia and natalis invicti

24th December- Christmas eve

Here again is a custom of setting out stockings against the chimneys with milk and mince pies or cookies. It revolves around a legend of St. Nicholas and the three peasant daughters. But that’s a story for another Christmas time.

26th December- Boxing Day

It originated in medieval times when priests were supposed to empty alms boxes from the church and distribute gifts to the poor.

Wealthy people packed up the remains of feasts in boxes and gave them out to servants.

26th December- Saint Stephen’s Day

The church also remembers the first martyr on this day.

A custom in Ireland exists based on a legend of St. Stephen who was forced to hide in a bush but a chattering wren gave him away. In the past, children have caged the wren to help it do penance for this misdeed. 

Twelve days of Christmas.

This begins on the day of Saint Stephen.

A myth says it used to be a kind of memory game for children.

Another says it was a song used during the period in England when Catholics were prohibited from practicing. It was written to help teach young Catholics tenets of their faith. Where ‘true love’ meant GOD and ‘me’ referred to every baptized person.

26th December– 1st January ‘KWANZA’

It’s a 7 day festival that celebrates the African and African American culture and history.

The name is derived from ‘matunda ya kwanza’ which means first fruits in Swahili. The special candle holder is called a ‘kinara’ 

It is a Jewish festival of Lights as it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It lasts for 8 days and starts on the 25th of kivlev, the lunar December in the Jewish calendar.On each of the 8 nights, a special candle is lit in a special candlelabra called ‘hanukkiyah’. A servant candle or a ‘shammash’ is used to light. 
Christmas pudding

This is made from ‘frumenty’. A rich fruit pudding served by the rich and poor of medieval times. 

If the pudding is made at home, everybody in the household must take turns to stir the pudding and make a wish. The mixture is to be stirred from east to west in honor of the three wise men.

The pudding is eaten on the twelfth night. 
28th December- Holy Innocents Day

This is a day to commemorate King Herod’s massacre of all male infants below 2 years. It is also called childermas. These children were martyrs before they could even speak.

It is a time for indulging children with treats and parties

Superstitiously, it is regarded as the unluckiest day of the year.

Published by Afara Leadership Centre

Afara Leadership Centre was set up in 1987 to provide an enabling environment for total personal development as well as growth in leadership skills and values for young women in their years of secondary and tertiary education. It is located at 25 Thorburn Avenue, off Montgomery, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria. It is a project of Women’s Board of the Education Cooperation Society, a Nigerian not-for-profit, non-governmental organization. The spiritual formation given in the Centre is entrusted to Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church

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