Today is Christmas Day (Eastern Orthodox)

Today is Christmas Day in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Most Eastern Orthodox follow the Julian calendar for the liturgical year, which means Christmas is celebrated 13 days after it is celebrated in the West. The Eastern Orthodox churches in Constantinople (Istanbul), Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Romania and most recently Ukraine celebrate Christmas on December 25. All the other Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate it on 7 January. Armenia has both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, so both dates are observed. Many old order Amish celebrate a second Christmas, called Old Christmas, on January 7 as well.

So to my Eastern Orthodox friends, I will wish a blessed and joyful Christmas Day.

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Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

 

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

 

 

 

 

Today is Epiphany/Three Kings Day(Actual)

Wise Men Adoration
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo ((1617–1682)
Toledo Museum of Art
Public Domain

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6 by most Western Christian denominations. It is the day set aside to celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem and the presentation of their gifts to Jesus. The Catholic Church decided to move its observance to the Sunday after Christmas so people would not have to take off work to attend mass.  In 2021, since Christmas fell on a Saturday, it was celebrated the next day. However the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas are still in play.

Twelfth Day observances vary by country and some celebrate it on the evening before. Usually there are special celebrations involving foods and special cakes. If a Christmas log was lit for the season, it is now extinguished. King cake (a traditional part of the feast) is almost always present. Children often get gifts of candy or other things from the Wise Men. In Italy, the Christmas Witch La Belfana delivers  gifts on Epiphany Eve to stockings children put up before bed. They awake to the delight of treats in the stockings. In Spain, it is celebrated as Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day) where families gather to celebrate the day.

One good way to celebrate it with the family is to gather before the  nativity to remember what the holiday is all about. Christmas music should be played and a nice midday meal served. Then taking down the Christmas tree can be done together. The nativity scene can remain up until the Baptism of the Lord (Jan 9 this year) which ends the Christmas season.

 

Titanic News for 2 Jan 2024

Farewell 2023

Bow section of tanker SS Pendleton grounded near Pollock Rib lightship six miles off Chatham, Mass on the morning of Feb. 19, 1952.
Photo:Public Domain (U.S. Coast Guard)

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Happy New Year everyone. I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. Believe it or not, the Christmas season is still on and celebrated in many Christian churches. Christmas is traditionally celebrated for 12 days beginning on December 25 and usually concludes on or about January 6 with the arrival of the Three Wise Men (called Three Kings Day, Epiphany Day). However if that day falls on a Saturday or the following Monday, it is usually celebrated on Sunday.

However some believe that Christmas extends out from the Epiphany till the Presentation  of the Lord (February 2). Since this is also called Candlemas (you bring candles to church to be blessed),  Candlemas is celebrated in some countries with festivities akin to Christmas. In the U.S., the national conference of bishops has decided that Christmas formally ends on the Baptism of the Lord, which comes after Epiphany,  Most people begin taking down their Christmas decorations in the days leading up to the Epiphany. There used to be a special feast in some countries on the day when the last decorations come down. Taking down and packing up  decorations is both happy and sad in my home. Sad that Christmas is over but then happy it will come back!

Now for some news-

Image: OceanGate

“Remembering Those Lost on OceanGate’s Titan Submersible.” CBS News, 31 Dec. 2023, www.cbsnews.com/news/oceangate-titan-submersible-remembering-those-lost.

Most of the time, an obituary makes headlines because of how a person lived. But every now and then, it’s because of how they died. That certainly is the case for the five men on the OceanGate Titan submersible, which imploded this past June on its way down to the Titanic.  

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“Is the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge Worth It? A Local Weighs In.” The Smokies, 2 Jan. 2024, www.thesmokies.com/is-the-titanic-museum-in-pigeon-forge-worth-it.

But to limit the appreciation of the museum to those who wish for a “King-of-the-World” moment is to dismiss the history nerd that exists in so many of us. The displays, some of which are rotating, are diverting and informative. The rooms are exact replicas of Titanic’s quarters and are akin to touring Versailles, Napoleon III’s quarters in the Louvre or the tours at Biltmore. Because there are quicker ways to spend your money in Pigeon Forge in three hours, I would say yes, it’s worth checking out at least once.

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Titanic News for New Year’s Eve 2023

 “Look Inside ‘Titanic’ Mansion That Went Unseen for Over 100 Years.” Liverpool Echo, 30 Dec. 2023, www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/photos-inside-titanic-mansion-went-28318363.

These photos offer a look inside a historic mansion with links to the Titanic which went unseen by the public for 140 years. Beach Lawn House is a stunning Victorian Villa in Waterloo, that was built for Thomas Henry Ismay who founded the White Star Line. He paid £2,500 for the Grade-II listed house on December 17, 1860.

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 “New Titanic-inspired Cookbook Plays Out Against the Real — and Reel — Worlds of the Ship – Chicago Sun-Times.” Chicago Sun-Times, 26 Dec. 2023, chicago.suntimes.com/taste/2023/12/27/24012380/new-titanic-inspired-cookbook-recipes.

Hinke’s latest book, “Titanic: The Official Cookbook: 40 Timeless Recipes for Every Occasion” (Insight Editions, 144 pages), celebrates the culinary elegance and history of the ship as seen through the lens of James Cameron’s Oscar-winning film “Titanic,” which celebrated the 25th anniversary of its release in 2022.

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“Charles Joughin: How Whiskey Saved the Head Baker of the Titanic.” History Defined -, 24 Dec. 2023, www.historydefined.net/charles-joughin.

Although the extravagance of the voyage is well known, the pastries that Joughin was responsible for creating are not why he is remembered. Instead, Joughin is best known for his remarkable survival in the face of imminent death. Historians and scientists attribute his survival to one thing: the sheer amount of alcohol he consumed that night.

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A Massive Titanic Exhibition ‘Using Imagery and Audio’ Is Sailing Into Birmingham in 2024.” Secret Birmingham, 21 Dec. 2023, secretbirmingham.com/titanic-exhibition-birmingham.

[I guess this comes under the heading of advanced notice! This exhibition does not begin till July 2024, so I guess the promoter sent out notices to the local media. People will rush to the article thinking that this opens soon in Birmingham (UK) only to find they have many months to wait. I guess you can watch several Titanic movies and books while you wait for it to open.]

But a titanic ‘Titanic Exhibition’ will soon tell its tragic story like you’ve seen never before when it comes to Birmingham in 2024. Tracing the ocean liner’s journey from its construction at a shipyard in Belfast, through its fateful voyage, to its rediscovery at the bottom of the ocean. You’ll be able to see everything from interactive exhibits to footage of the wreckage, as well as props from the 1997 blockbuster film.

 Sailing into the NEC Birmingham from Saturday, July 27 to Sunday, August 25, 2024, the exhibition will use imagery, audio and real objects from the Titanic to convey life onboard the ship. Visitors will be able to see items and read stories about the first, second and third-class passengers, plus crew and engineers. There’s even a photographic collection from onboard passenger and survivor, Father Browne.

Wishing Everyone a Joyful and Prosperous New Year. 

Happy New Year (publicdomainpictures.net)
Photo: Larisa Koshkina

Remembering Thomas Becket, Saint and Martyr (29 Dec 1170)

Earliest known portrayal of Thomas Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral.
circa 1200
PD-US-expired, PD-UK and other countries where authors life and set years have expired.
Source: British Library via Wikimedia Commons

On December 29 1170, Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in front of the altar by four knights in Canterbury Cathedral.

Becket had been a successful chancellor for King Henry II and had helped him consolidate his power even if went against the church. Well liked and respected, Becket served the king well earning his complete trust. When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, King Henry decided to put Becket in that spot so he could have more control of the church. Appointing him in 1162, he expected Becket to faithfully continue what Henry wanted. Except that is not what happened at all,

Becket though underwent a transformation and switched his allegiance to the church. He adopted an ascetic lifestyle and lived humbly despite being in the most powerful bishopric in England. King Henry and Becket starting clashing over many issues. Finally when the king demanded Becket sign the Constitutions of Clarendon in 1164 to extend his control over the church, Becket refused and left England and went to France. He returned in 1170 after a reconciliation had been worked out. Two bishops who had sided with Henry had been excommunicated refused to rejoin unless they supported the church over Henry. The bishops complained to Henry, who was in France at the time, who uttered words that suggested he wanted him dead. Four knights took this as an order and sailed to England.

There they murdered Becket on the altar stairs just as evening mass was starting. This shocking event caused outrage and horror. King Henry went on a 40 day fast. Pope Alexander III proclaimed him a saint two years later. King Henry II walked barefoot to his tomb as penance and was forgiven by the church. His tomb became a popular spot for pilgrims to visit until King Henry VIII destroyed it. When he was reburied in the new tomb that was subsequently destroyed, many of his bones were sent to other churches as relics. They were returned in 2016 to the cathedral in which he died in.

His feast day of December 29 is celebrated on both Anglican and Catholic calendars. He is the saint of secular clergy.

What Happened to the Four Knights who killed Becket?

The four knights-Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton- heard King Henry II utter words they interpreted as meaning he wanted Becket dead. After killing Becket. The assassins fled north to de Morville’s castle and stayed there about a year. He owned property in Cumbria and this have been used as well. They may have been preparing to go into Scotland as well. King Henry II did not confiscate their lands and let the church deal with them. Pope Alexander excommunicated all four which for all intents and purposes meant they were unwelcome anywhere in Christian Europe.

The knights appealed to King Henry for help; he declined. Deciding to seek penance for their actions, the four knights went to Rome and met with Pope Alexander. He accepted their contrition and as penance ordered them to serve 14 years as knights in the Holy Lands. This inspired the creation of the Knights of St. Thomas, a purely all English order of knights that would serve in the Holy Land. After internal disputes much later (and the loss of the Holy Lands), the order focused on charitable work and ran a school. It was dissolved in 1538 by King Henry VIII as part of his order dissolving all religious orders in England.

 

Sources:

Knowles, Michael David. “Saint Thomas Becket | Biography, Facts, Death, Patron Saint of, and Significance.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Dec. 2023, www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Thomas-Becket.

“St. Thomas Becket – Saints and Angels – Catholic Online.” Catholic Online, www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=12.

“Archbishop Thomas Becket Is Murdered.” HISTORY, 9 Feb. 2010, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-making-of-an-english-martyr.

 

Today is the Feast of St.Stephen (Boxing Day U.K.)

Saint Stephen by Carlo Crivelli (1476)
Source: National Gallery, London via Wikimedia Commons.
Public Domain in UK and US; may be restricted in other countries.

If you remember the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas , you heard the name. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian church who was accused of blasphemy and put on trial by Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. After a trial in which he denounced them, Stephen was stoned to death. One of the witnesses to the event was Saul of Tarsus, who later converted and is known today as the apostle Saint Paul. Stephen is considered the first martyr for the faith, the reason his feast day immediately follows the celebration of Jesus birth. All the major Christian congregations–Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox–all venerate him as a Saint and celebrate the feast day (Western churches on 26 December, 27 Dec Orthodox, and 8 Jan Oriental Orthodox). In some countries (mainly Western Europe) it is a public holiday.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand it is celebrated as Boxing Day, a secular holiday that falls on the same day as Feast of Stephen. Traditionally it is the day in which servants and tradespeople receive the “Christmas box” from their employers. While that tradition may still hold true, it is either a second Christmas day for some or an extra shopping day (though in some countries it apparently is a day when a lot of returns to retailers takes place). It is also a major sports day as well.

Further Information

St. Stephen (Catholic Encyclopedia)
St. Stephen (Britannica)
Boxing Day (pauldenton.co.uk)

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Washington Crosses Delaware in Surprise Attack (Dec 25-26, 1776)

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze (1816–1868)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

By the winter of 1776, things looked bleak for the patriots fighting the British. They had suffered a string of defeats (New York and other places) that sapped the morale of many patriots. General George Washington’s leadership was being questioned by some leaders, and there was a general feeling that British were going to win unless things changed. The British by this time were of the opinion they were succeeding, though they found the Americans could put up a good fight. With winter upon them, the war paused as normally European armies did not fight during this time. Hessian troops, paid mercenaries hired by the British, were skilled professional soldiers raised nearly from birth to fight. A Hessian force was quartering in Trenton, New Jersey for the winter. General Washington decided to go on the offensive to win a battle and raise the morale of the troops who were suffering through the cold winter.

On the night of December 25, 1776, his army began moving across the Delaware River. The group led by Washington, 2,400 strong, made it to the other side but the other two divisions that made of 3,000 men did not get across at the right time. The Hessians had spent Christmas Day relaxing, eating, and drinking and did not believe the Americans were a threat. They had in fact dismissed warnings the Americans might attack. So, they were unprepared for what happened on December 26.  At 8 am, Washington attacked with two columns. By 9:30 am, the German defenses had crumbled, and the town was surrounded. While many Hessians did escape, they did capture several hundred and only lost four lives in the process. Unfortunately, since most of his troops had failed to cross, Washington was without any additional men or artillery to hold Trenton. He was forced to withdraw.

It was a minor battle that had no real strategic impact. The news of the successful attack though raised American colonialists’ spirits.  The initiative shown by Washington showed the Continental Army was capable of victory.

Sources:

History.com
MountVernon.org

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Merry Christmas from Titanic News Channel

Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

 

The Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst 1590–1656)
Image: Public Domain (Wikipedia)

….And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” (Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

 

A Visit From St. Nicholas

Image:public domain

A Visit from St. Nicholas
BY CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Titanic, historic ship, and general history news.