I’m sending out this somewhat secular e-Christmas card to all my readers, but depictions of the Nativity of Christ can be found in my greeting postings of previous years. So I have found this nice painting of Saint (Nic)Claus transposed to our own time having a good sail on his day off. The poor man might have been a tad cold with bare arms at this time of year. Don’t capsize!!!!
I wish you all a happy feast, keeping the essential in the midst of all the commercial and secular noise and hoop-la, the overeating, family squabbles and so forth. A way to put things into perspective is to look out of the window of your house and see the silent gloom of the drizzle-and-drip weather we are having at present in Europe. The only time I have ever had a white Christmas was in 1985 high up in the Swiss Alps with a seminary friend. That silence of the dead of winter reminds us of the events so long ago in Bethlehem and the indifference of the world.
Joseph and Mary were required to fulfil their administrative obligations by going to Bethlehem where all the guest houses were full, and she went into labour. There was nothing of the romance of our carols and cribs with artificial snow and christmassy decorations. Giving birth in a farm building, unless you are a cow, is not very hygienic! We need something of the real Christmas to go with our traditional enjoyment of rich food, gifts and excited children.
If you are alone and sad, perhaps ill or disabled, may this feast bring hope and love of God in your suffering. If you are with your family and doing things the typical way, make a good hypocrisy-check and keep things reasonable. If you are absorbed in the Offices and Mass, like monks, priests and devout churchgoers, may you be blessed by the Incarnation of the Λόγος of God and all that entails. Happy Christmas!
Happy Christmas to you also, and to all new Goliards.
Yes, a truly blessed celebration to all!
A blessed Christmas to you, Father, and to all the readers of this blog.
Happy Christmas to you, too, and to all, on this Feast of St. John! (I need to do my homework on Octaves, but they seem both rich and relaxed.)
And thank you for the delightful painting! One thing that came to mind was the curious carol, “I saw three ships come sailing in, / On Christmas day” – and find that Douglas Anderson provides the note, “The legend about sailing into landlocked Bethlehem can be traced back to the 12th century when three ships brought the relics of the purported Wise Men to Koln, Germany. From this story evolved the English folk carol ‘I Saw Three Ships,’ which, it is thought, comes from the 15th century. The ‘three ships’ refers to the belief that there were three Wise Men […] which comes from the number of gifts [….] Over the passage of time, the Holy Family was substituted for the Magi” (on his delightful Hymns and Carols of Christmas website).
As far as I can discover, the association of St. Nicholas and/or Father Christmas with the North Pole is first attested in the mid-Nineteenth century. But I have lately been reading Edward Watson’s fascinating series of posts at his Clas Merdin site about King “Arthur in the Arctic” and the apparently surprisingly long-standing idea that there were solid islands at and around the North Pole, if not always the most navigable waters. So, the sight of – St. Nicholas? – Father Christmas? – sailing acquires an extra imaginative richness (is there a North-west Passage known to him – whatever the season?). (A Dutch Nineteenth-century development, still very much alive today, is to have St. Nicholas arrive here on that then most modern thing, a steamer: though one of the earliest mid-Nineteenth-century accounts, here, has him arrive by hot-air balloon and depart by steam train… all in the context of his Feast Day rather than Christmas.)