Category Archives: Holidays

Today is Epiphany/Three Kings Day(Actual)

Adoración de los Reyes Magos
El Greco (1541–1614)
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.

 

Today is Epiphany Sunday (Observed) (2 Jan 2022)

Adoración de los Reyes Magos
El Greco (1541–1614)
Public Domai

Today is Epiphany Sunday in most Christian liturgical calendars. It is normally observed on 6 January but since Christmas fell on a Saturday, it is celebrated on the nearest Sunday which is today. Thus the 12 Days of Christmas are still in effect and will continue until the actual date when the Christmas season generally ends for many. Most Eastern Orthodox churches and Russian Orthodox celebrate it using the Julian Calendar, so it occurs 13 days later. Their Advent Season is now taking place with Christmas Day on 7 Jan 2022.

Epiphany or Three Kings Day is to celebrate the baptism of Jesus and the arrival of The Magi (Three Kings or Wise Men). During the Middle Ages, this was a major feast day (a solemnity) requiring attendance at church on that day. However, it was decided (since its popularity began to wane) to move it to the Sunday followingChristmas. Some Protestant churches celebrate the Epiphany season from January 6 till Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Christians celebrate it on January 19 as they follow the Julian calendar.

Christmas Day on the Great Lakes

Shipping did not stop on the Great Lakes during Christmas. Many people must work on Christmas from emergency responders to retail workers that have to work in grocery or convenience stores over the holiday. The same goes for crews of Great Lakes freighters that load and unload cargo during the Christmas season and in particular Christmas Day. Ore and bulk freighters carry raw materials needed by power plants, factories, and other things. That means ship crews need to work over the holidays so that these raw materials get delivered.  Such was the case of the Mesabi Miner which departed from Duluth on Christmas Day.

Of course the crews do celebrate Christmas aboard ship. Most ships these days have comfortable crew areas where they can get fed and relax. So no doubt they had Christmas decorations up, music playing, and of course some Christmas food as well. And when they get home (and the shipping season generally ends at the end of December and early January) they will probably have celebrations when they get home once their ship is laid up for the season (until late March or early April depending on the weather) .

We should never forget those who do provide essential services during the Christmas season. They work in the background to get things done that benefit us all.

Feast of Holy Family (26 Dec 2021)

 

The Flight into Egypt (Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528)
Photo: Public Domain

 

Scripture tells us little or nothing at all about the early years of Jesus. We know they had to flee to Egypt when God warned Joseph about Herod’s order to kill all males 2 years old or younger. We know they returned to Nazareth and what happened when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem. Yet there is something important that is passed over in our hurry to get to Jesus’ ministry. The Holy Family-Mary, Joseph and Jesus-are important symbols about the family. You have two loving parents devoted to raising their son and obeying God by raising him in their faith. Their love and respect for one another, God, and Jesus are important components of what God wants the family to be. Towards the end of the 19thcentury, Pope Leo XII (as did other popes) became concerned that the concept of the family was being diluted and in danger. So, he introduced the Feast of the Holy Family to venerate them as a model for Christian families in 1893 and set it originally on the Sunday after the Epiphany. This was changed in 1969 when it was moved to the first Sunday after Christmas to make it part of the Christmas season.

However in 2021, since Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, it will be celebrated on Sunday, 26 December. Normally this would be the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, but it has been bumped off the liturgical calendar for Catholics and other Christian denominations. In countries where it is a public holiday, it will be celebrated on Monday. Boxing Day in the UK (and other countries that observe it) will take place according to the local calendar (the UK celebrates it as a bank holiday on 28 Dec 21).

Sources:
Britannica.com
Catholic Culture
Churchyear.net
Teaching Catholic Kids

Merry Christmas

Titanic News Channel wishes everyone a blessed and joyous Christmas season.

 

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)

 

Christmas Eve: Silent Night

Silent Night (Stille Nacht in German, Silens Nox in Latin) is perhaps the most beloved Christmas Carol. It was composed in 1818 by Franz Guber, an organist and schoolmaster, to lyrics by Father Joseph Mohr of the St. Nicholas parish in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 and since the organ was broken, the only musical accompaniment was the guitar. The popularity of the song spread and the version commonly used today comes from a translation in 1859. John Freeman Young, serving as an Episcopal priest at Trinity Church in New York City, translated and changed the tempo of the song. The original rendition by Gruber was more like a dance tune and sung faster. Young made into a slower lullaby style that is the most common version today. Because it has been so widely translated, it is the one Christmas carol that is known worldwide.

In Austria, Silent Night is not heard until Christmas Eve, usually around 9 p.m. Then it is played on the radio once an hour and of course during church services.  Enjoy this wonderful carol. Merry Christmas!

 

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!”


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

One of the purposes of a Christmas carol (or hymn) is to remind what Christmas is about. Today everyone attends school and learns the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, that was not always the case as the poor were often illiterate. To combat this, Charles Wesley, a Methodist preacher, decided to write hymns and poems to be to convey to them Christian doctrine. He wrote over 6,000 hymns making him one of the most prolific writers of hymns in history. He was the brother of John Wesley, who had founded Methodism, who used the hymns his brother wrote for Methodist services. Because of the large use of songs, Methodism is said to have been born of song.

One of the most famous songs he wrote was Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (published 1739). He wrote it as a poem inspired by hearing the London church bells ring on Christmas Day. George Whitefield, who was a student and later a close friend of Wesley, put it to music and added the words “newborn king” to it. The song relates the good news of the savior’s birth, and that God has sent him to reconcile sinners. The song is deeply infused with theology and one of the reasons it is so popular in churches and by the public as well. Here is a version that Amy Grant uses. It is remarkable due to her deep and rich voice but that she used slightly different lyrics than normal. Most people really like this version and I hope you will to. Merry Christmas!

 

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Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day for the Northern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice usually falls between December 20-23 and the sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn resulting in the North Pole being tilted the furthest away. The result is shorter days for sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere. And the further north you are (like Alaska or Scandinavian countries) means less sun during the day. The reverse happens in the Southern Hemisphere as the sun is closer to them and they celebrate the Summer Solstice. Those closer to the South Pole can have nearly 24 hours of sun during this time of year.

Solstices and Equinoxes
Image: NASA

 

Many cultures observed the Winter Solstice as it marked an important time in the agricultural cycle. By this time all crops and livestock had been prepared for winter. Important foodstuffs were stored for the months when virtually nothing grew. Wine and beer, which had been fermenting during the year, was ready. Cattle and pigs would often be killed at the start of winter so they would not have to be fed during this time. The early months of winter were tough in many places and often called the “famine months” since little food was to be found. Many cultures observed the Winter Solstice as a renewal or that the year was reborn. For out of the seeming withdrawal of the sun, it would come back just as strong and powerful as before. Thus, the Winter Solstice was seen by many as the start of a new year such as the old Roman Feast of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) which happened around the 25th of December.

For more information:

Winter Solstice(History.com)
Winter Solstice (Britannica.com)
13 Fascinating Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World (Readers Digest)