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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Fisheaters.com ^ | not given | Fisheaters.com

Posted on 12/22/2008 7:54:00 PM PST by Salvation

Christmas Eve
and Christmas Day

Adoration of the Shepherds, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1650-5


 

See the Christmastide Overview page for more on the symbols of Christmas
that are spoken of on this page and that are used throughout the Season until Candlemas

 


 
Christ is born in Bethlehem, alleluia! The mood of this Feast is summed up by words of the angels to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-14:

And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

The long-awaited Messias is born, and His Nativity is filled with Mystery. Did you know that "Bethlehem" means "House of Bread"? Yes, the Bread of Life, the Living Bread from Heaven, was born in a town called "House of Bread" -- and, fortelling His future as the Bread of Life Who feeds His sheep, was laid in a manger. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (a.k.a. Gregory of Neocaesarea), A.D. 213 - ca. 270, describes the significance of the manger in his Homily on the Annunciation:

In the board from which cattle eat was laid the heavenly Bread, in order that He might provide participation in spiritual sustenance for men who live like the beasts of the earth.

The Feast of the Nativity (see this page for some interesting information on the date of Christmas) is a most joyous one that celebrates the incredible reality that the Second Person of the Trinity was born of a Virgin so He could redeem us. "It was He, the Infant of days, that could appease, O Lord, the Ancient of Days," wrote St. Ephraem the Syrian and Doctor of the Church.


Customs

If Advent preparations have been handled well, the house should be clean, work should be done, and things should be fresh and ready for 12 days of rejoicing!

Yule log, or 'ceppo'Once the sun goes down on Christmas Eve, the Yule log is lit in the fireplace. Back when homes had great fireplaces, fires were lit on Christmas Eve using logs so huge as to be able to burn for all the days of Christmas. These Yule logs now tend to be much smaller, but the traditions surrounding them remain: the fire on Christmas Eve should be lit using a piece of last year's Yule Log which has been stored under the bed of the mistress of the house, which folk belief says brings good fortune and prevents lightning strikes to the home. In Provence, the Yule log is lit with great ceremony. The Grandfather will pour sweet wine over it three times while saying:

Alègre! Alègre! Alègre! Que nostre Segne nous alègre!
S’un autre an sian pas mai, moun Dieu fugen pas men!

Which means:

Joy! Joy! Joy! May God bring us joy!
And if, in the year to come, we are not more, let us not be less!

Then he and the youngest child carry the log three times around the Christmas table before taking it to the fireplace. Alas, fireplaces are less common than they once were, but if you have no fireplace, a decorated log can be used as a centerpiece, as is done in Italy where the log is known as a "ceppo."

While the Yule log burns, a candle is put in the window. This is an old Irish custom stemming from the Protestant persecutions: the candle signalled to priests that the home was a safe place for Mass to be offered, but when the English asked questions, they were told that it was a symbolic invitation to Joseph and Mary.

The Christ candle -- a large white candle decorated with holly and such -- is lit for Christmas Eve Supper, replacing the Advent wreath. It is re-lit each night until the Epiphany to represent Christ's Light and in order to help guide the Magi to the manger. 1 The greenery of the Advent wreath itself is now decorated and hanged on the front door, remaining there throughout the Christmas season.


Foods

Christmas Eve (before the Vigil Mass) is a day of fasting and abstinence. The 1983 Code of Canon Law eliminated this fast altogether, but traditional Catholics still keep the fast, eating seafood (the Italians eat fish -- often seven of them!), noodles, other forms of pasta, etc. for the Christmas Eve Supper.

In any case, on both Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, special dinners are served, some families beginning their Christmas Eve meals when a child sees the first star of the evening in the Noel sky. The table should be beautiful, with greenery and candles, especially the Christ Candle. Some families set a place setting for those who've died during the year or for those who are otherwise unable to attend, and then set a lit candle on it to burn throughout the meal. An Eastern European tradition is to use a white tablecoth to represent Christ's purity and His swaddling clothes, and to place underneath it a bit of hay to recall where he was born. In Provence, three white table cloths of different sizes are used, with the smallest on top. Nutcracker (Nussknacker)

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day foods vary from country to country, but Christmas Eve dinners are meatless, while Christmas Day is the day of unrestricted feasting, when Christmas candies, marzipan, oranges, apples, tangerines, nuts, and the cookies baked during Advent are all laid out. From a German tradition, the nuts are cracked open with a nutcracker (nussknacker) shaped like a soldier. E. T. A. Hoffmann's Christmastime story, "The Mouse King," written in 1816, uses this type of nutcracker as a character, and since Tchaikowsky wrote his famous "The Nutcracker" ballet based on this story, both the nutcracker itself and the ballet have become seasonal favorites (click to hear the ballet's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy").

OplatekOn Christmas Eve, the Poles have a beautiful custom that recalls the Eucharist: Oplatki ("oplatek" in the singular) -- very thin, crisp, large rectangular breads with the consistency of Communion wafers and impressed with religious designs -- are eaten on Christmas Eve (Wigilia) . They are laid at the center of the table this night, on a bed of straw. Just before supper, the father wishes all a holy Christmas and recalls those who've died during the year and brings to memory Christmas Eve suppers past. He takes an oplatek that's been blessed by a priest, and breaks off a piece to give to his wife. He places it in her mouth with a blessing such as, "May the Lord bless and keep you through this next year." The mother reciprocates and then hands a piece to the person next to her and blesses him. That person does the same to the one next to him, and so on, until all have received and given a piece. If it is more than just the immediate family present, the oldest person present will initiate by offering an Oplatek to another, and the two break off a piece between them, passing the remainder on to the next person. Oplatki are shared with the family's animals, too. So loved is this tradition that Poles will mail small oplatki inside Christmas cards to those who aren't present for Christmas Eve. Remaining pieces of oplatki are given to animals to bless them, too (note: the "L" in the word for this bread is pronounced as a "W")."

In Denmark and Norway, a Christmas Eve requirement is a rice pudding, sometimes served with a raspberry or cherry sauce, and inside of which is a peeled almond. The lucky person who finds the almond wins a marzipan pig!

The after-Midnight Mass time (see below) is known as "le réveillon" (the "awakening") in France and French Canada. Foods from the Christmas Eve Supper are served up, and, depending on the region of France or Canada, crêpes, foie-gras, oysters, etc. are served, always ending with the fanciful, Yule Log-shaped Bûche de Noel cake. In Provence, seven meatless dishes are eaten for supper, and then, after Mass, thirteen desserts appear on the table and remain there for three days.
 
On Christmas Day, the English prefer gingerbread, plum puddings, and mincemeat pies. Mincemeat pies are baked in an oblong shape to recall Jesus' crib. To them were added cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to symbolize the gifts of the Magi. These pies were once made illegal by Puritan Oliver Cromwell, Lord Chancellor of England, because it was considered a "popish" dish (their loss!). An old bit of doggerel 2 that describes the anti-Catholic animus:

The high-shoe lords of Cromwell's making
Were not for dainties -- roasting, baking;
The chiefest food they found most good in,
Was rusty bacon and bag-pudding;
Plum-broth was popish, and mince-pie --
O that was flat idolatry!

Along with Christmas Day Feast's "popish foods," the English serve Christmas Crackers -- not a food, but a device invented a Christmas Crackerin 1844 by Thomas Smith. It is a tube filled with candy, trinkets, jokes, and a party hat, all wrapped in colorful paper and broken open by two people, one pulling and twisting at each end. A cracker is placed beside each dinner plate at the Christmas table, and guests pick them up in their right hand, cross their arms, and, with their free left hand, pull the cracker of their neighbor to the right. When the cracker breaks open, a bang is produced when two strips of cardboard treated with silver fulminate strike against each other.

Italians have to have a wonderful Christmas bread called panettone; Germans have their stollen (also crib-shaped, like mincemeat pies, and then "swaddled" in powdered sugar); Americans tend to go for their grandmothers' recipes from the "Old Country." See this page for a few recipes for a classic Christmas.

-- and in all your feasting, don't forget God's other creatures! St. Francis of Assisi preached that animals should be well fed on Christmas, too. 3 He said

If I could see the Emperor, I would implore him to issue a general decree that all people who are able to do so, shall throw grain and corn upon the streets, so that on this great feast day the birds might have enough to eat, especially our sisters, the larks.

Give your dog some cheese and your kitty a little saucer of cream in honor of this great Saint and the Christ Child!


After Supper

It is believed that Christ was born at midnight based on tradition and the time of the Passover that preceded the Exodus from Egypt as recounted in Exodus 12:21-23, 29-31:

And Moses called all the ancients of the children of Israel, and said to them: Go take a lamb by your families, and sacrifice the Phase. And dip a bunch of hyssop in the blood that is at the door, and sprinkle the transom of the door therewith, and both the door cheeks: let none of you go out of the door of his house till morning. For the Lord will pass through striking the Egyptians: and when he shall see the blood on the transom, and on both the posts, he will pass over the door of the house, and not suffer the destroyer to come into your houses and to hurt you...

...And it came to pass at midnight, the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharao, who sat on his throne, unto the firstborn of the captive woman that was in the prison, and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharao arose in the night, and all his servants, and all Egypt: for there was not a house wherein there lay not one dead. And Pharao calling Moses and Aaron, in the night, said: Arise and go forth from among my people, you and the children of Israel: go, sacrifice to the Lord as you say.

-- and the words of Wisdom 18:14-15 --

For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, Thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction.

-- and a line from the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:

And at midnight there was a cry made: Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.

So, as near to Midnight as possible on Christmas Eve, or at least when it is dark and "symbolically midnight," the official Proclamation of Christmas can be read to begin Christmas as the Baby Jesus is laid in the manger and the Christmas tree is lit (see below). Dom Gueranger describes the proclamation thus:

At the Office of Prime, in cathedral chapters and monasteries, the announcement of tomorrow's feast is made with unusual solemnity. The lector, who frequently is one of the dignitaries of the choir, sings, to a magnificent chant, the following lesson from the martyrology. All the assistants remain standing during it, until the lector comes to the word Bethlehem, at which all genuflect, and continue in that posture until all the glad tidings are told.

The proclamation itself:

The Eighth of the Calends of January

Octavo Kalendas Januarii

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:

 

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono:

From the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:

A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:

From the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:

A nativitate Abrahae, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:

From Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten:

A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:

From David's being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:

Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:

In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel:

Hebdomoda sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:

In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad:

Olympiade centesima nongentesima quarta:

From the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:

Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:

In the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:

Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo:

The whole world being in peace:

toto urbe in pace composito,

In the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:

sexta mundi aetate, Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH!

NATIVITAS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!


How beautiful it would be to follow up the Proclamation with Psalm 148, Laudate Dominum de caelis:

 

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens Praise the name of the Lord. For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created. He hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all ye deeps: Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill his word: Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars: Beasts and all cattle: serpents and feathered fowls: Kings of the earth and all people: princes and all judges of the earth: Young men and maidens: let the old with the younger, praise the name of the Lord: For his name alone is exalted. The praise of him is above heaven and earth: and he hath exalted the horn of his people. A hymn to all his saints: to the children of Israel, a people approaching to him. Alleluia.

Alleluia laudate Dominum de caelis: laudate eum in excelsis . Laudate eum omnes angeli eius laudate eum omnes virtutes eius. Laudate eum sol et luna laudate eum omnes stellae et lumen. Laudate eum caeli caelorum et aqua quae super caelum est. Laudent nomen Domini quia ipse dixit et facta sunt ipse mandavit et creata sunt statuit ea in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi praeceptum posuit et non praeteribit. Laudate Dominum de terra dracones et omnes abyssi. Ignis grando nix glacies spiritus procellarum quae faciunt verbum eius. Montes et omnes colles ligna fructifera et omnes cedri : Bestiae et universa pecora serpentes et volucres pinnatae. Reges terrae et omnes populi principes et omnes iudices terrae : iuvenes et virgines senes cum iunioribus laudent nomen Domini : quia exaltatum est nomen eius solius. Confessio eius super caelum et terram et exaltabit cornu populi sui hymnus omnibus sanctis eius filiis Israhel populo adpropinquanti sibi. Alleluia.

While these beautiful words proclaim Christmas and praise God, the Christmas tree can be lit for the first time. The Christmas tree 4 will remain, like other Christmas decorations and symbols, at least until the Epiphany or its Octave, but more often, and more properly, until Candlemas (February 2). Adoration of the Shepherds, by Philippe de Champaigne, 1630Some families decorate the tree as a family; in others, the parents decorate the tree outside of the children's sight, then darken the room, light candles and the tree's lights, play music, burn incense, and otherwise set a glorious scene before they lead the children into the room to enjoy the splendor, especially as close as possible to Midnight. Some parents have one special ornament that they will put on the tree last, hiding it so that the first child who finds it gets an extra present or privilege. 5

Of course, and most importantly, Baby Jesus must arrive in His crib this night! A ceremony is made of enthroning Baby Jesus in the manger, with the youngest child given the honor of placing the figurine in the manger as his siblings hold candles whose light symbolize the Light of Christ. This is the perfect moment to bring on the Christmas carols, starting now with "Silent Night."

After you've lit the tree and candles, and have enthroned Baby Jesus, tell your children how it is said that at midnight on Christmas Eve, animals fall to their knees in adoration and speak in Latin praising God! It is said that church bells can be heard ringing from the bottom of the sea, and that the honeybees awaken to sing the 99th Psalm!

A psalm of praise. Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness. Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy. Know ye that the Lord he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves. We are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Go ye into his gates with praise, into his courts with hymns: and give glory to him. Praise ye his name: For the Lord is sweet, his mercy endureth for ever, and his truth to generation and generation.

The earth's rivers are said to turn to wine, her trees to blossom, and she lets loose of some of her gems, too -- but one must have a totally pure heart to see and hear these things! Shakespeare wrote in Act I Scene I of Hamlet about how malignant spirits and witches are rendered harmless on Christmas Eve:

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, no witch has power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

So holy is Christmas that folklore says that babies born today are considered especially blessed and able to see spirits, and those who die at the holy hour of Midnight tonight are said to enter straight into Heaven.


Christmas Mass

Mass is obligatory on Christmas, and this can be fulfilled by going to any one of three Masses:

  • the already mentioned Mass at Midnight, called the "Angels' Mass"
     
  • the Mass on Christmas morning, called the "Shepherds' Mass"
     
  • the Mass on Christmas day, called the "Mass of the Divine Word" or "Kings' Mass"

The Midnight Mass, though, is the one most Catholics clamor to attend. If the family attends the Midnight Mass, it might be a good idea to have the children take naps after supper so they'll be alert for it and for the placing of Jesus in His Crib, the lighting of the Christmas tree, etc.


Gift-giving

Gift giving is done differently by different Catholic households and in different (formerly) Catholic countries. Some families present gifts on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas Bishop of Myra after whom "Santa Claus" was partly modelled. Many Catholics (such as Italian Catholics) present gifts on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, in imitation of the Magi. And some exchange them on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Stories are told to children to explain who brings the gifts, and they vary greatly around the world:

Italy La Befana (on the Epiphany)
England Father Christmas
France Père Noel
Austria and Switzerland Christkind
Russia Baboushka
Sweden Jultomten
Mexico and Spain the Three Kings (on the Epiphany)
United States St. Nicholas (Santa Claus)
Hungary angels
Poland Mikolaj or St.Nicholas (on St. Nicholas's Day)


Parents should be extremely careful with any stories they might want to tell their children in this way. If it is done in a very obvious manner of pretending, if it is done is such a way as to keep Christ the focus of the day, then fine. But one must be careful not to let one's children confuse fantasy with eternal Truth, to focus on the former more than the latter, or to get greedy. One option is to give one small gift to the children on 6 December (in honor of/"from" St. Nicholas/Santa Claus), another larger one on 25 December (in honor of/"from" Baby Jesus or "Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus"), and another small one on the Epiphany (in honor of/"from" the Magi or La Befana). One benefit of doing this is that you can still give to your children things they'd love to have, but Christmas won't be a deluge of commercialism; another is that the Feast of St. Nicholas and Twelfth Night (the Vigil of the Epiphany) will be more memorable for them.

In any case, though, as said, if parents tell stories of mysterious strangers who leave gifts, they really need to be careful not to conflate them with the Truth; there should be a most definite difference in the way these two things are spoken of, and of course, Christ should hold first place in the celebrations, with any fairy tales a very distant second. Parents shouldn't spoil their children too much either or allow them to become overcome by a spirit of greed. Christmas in the Western world truly is becoming seen as a secular day of merry-making and lust for material things; the holy meaning of this wondrous day needs to be restored. Limiting the number of gifts, limiting the prices of gifts, insisting only on homemade gifts, spreading the gift-giving out over St. Nicholas's day, Christmas, and Twelfthnight as mentioned above, etc., are some ways to defeat the intense commercialism.

Christmas Day is spent with family, feasting, enjoying one another's company, singing songs, playing games, telling stories...


Scripture, Stories
and Poems for Christmastide

What is better than being told a story? Below are links to the texts of a few classics you might want to download and share with your children. They are in Microsoft Word .doc format with a 1.6" left margin so they might be easily "hole-punched" and put into a notebook:

  • The Nativity Story according to St. Luke, Douay-Rheims version (1 page)
    I include this for those of you who might not yet have a Douay-Rheims Bible. Please be sure that your children are able to distinguish between Sacred Scripture and some of those stories below that are not true!
  • Hymns on the Nativity (4 pages)
    Excerpts from the beautiful words of St. Ephraem (d. A.D. 373)
  • When the Animals Talk (1 page)
    by Rusty Calhoun. The legend -- found all over the world, from Scandinavia to Brazil to Italy to Poland -- is that the animals spoke in human language on the day Christ was born, and that even today, on Christmas Eve at the stroke of midnight, you can hear them praising God with human voices. This sweet little poem tells the tale.
  • Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves (2 pages)
    A cute little story to tell your children about why Christmas trees are green even in Winter
  • The Christmas Truce (2 pages)
    The beautiful true story of the "Christmas Truce" that took place between the German and British soldiers on the Western Front in World War I. To view an animated page, with music, based on this story, click here. The song you will hear is a beautiful, old German version of Silent Night, recorded in 1910 by the Steidl Quartet.
  • A Christmas Carol (1 page)
    by G. K. Chesterton. A brief poem with the final words, "And all the flowers looked up at Him, And all the stars looked down." Lovely!
  • The Little Match Girl (2 pages)
    by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Gift of the Magi (5 pages)
    by O. Henry

See also: The footnote on the page about the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen for an interesting legend positing a connection between Mary's midwife and the Magdalen's ointment.


Note: 25 December is also one of the 4 English "Quarter Days," days which fall around the Equinoxes or Solstices and mark the beginnings of new natural seasons (i.e., Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall) and which were used in medieval times to mark "quarters" for legal purposes, such as settling debts. The other days like this are: Lady Day (the Feast of the Annunciation) on March 25, the Feast of St. John on June 24, and Michaelmas on September 29.


Footnotes:
1 An unscented candle can be scented by burning it a while, and then adding a few drops of fragrance oil (not essential oil, which is rather volatile) to the melted wax. For your Christ Candle during the 12 Days of Christmas, why not try cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and/or cedar and other pines?

2 From R. Chambers's "The Book of Days" (1869)

3 Some families decorate trees outside with foods that will keep the birds happy. Hang garlands made of strung popcorn, cranberries, raisins, other dried fruits, orange halves, etc., and decorate further with suet balls or other items treated with suet. You can make such suet treats by mixing together warm, melted suet fat, bacon grease, or lard with corn meal, oat meal, raisins and other dried fruits, chopped nuts, 1-2 T. peanut butter, sunflower seeds, etc. Dip pine cones into the mixture, or let cool, form into balls, wrap up in mesh, and let harden.

4 Tips for Christmas trees:

  • if time is an issue, you could always put the tree up earlier than Christmas, get the lights on it, but save the ornaments and tinsel and the turning on of the lights 'til Christmas Eve at midnight. Or if wanting to decorate it outside the children's presence for lighting at Midnight, the tree can be fully decorated in a separate room, or kept covered by a screen or sheet, etc., until the time of the unveiling.
  • to keep real trees green and help them retain their needles, keep them away from heat sources and keep as cool as possible. Add sugar to the tree's water, and check the water a few times a day, replenishing as needed. To make artificial trees smell good, put about a teaspoon of pine or cedar essential oils into 4 ounces of distilled water inside a spray bottle and mist. Hang pomanders with the same scents from the branches.
  • Test lights before hanging and have a power strip ready so you won't have to deal with so many cords. The rule of thumb is that you need one strand of lights for every  one foot of tree.
  • Hang lights first (wrap the trunk first, then the middle of the branches, and then the outer branches for a sense of depth), then garlands, then ornaments. (If you use an artificial tree and have room to store it all set up, keep the lights on it and they will be ready next year.)
  • When hanging ornaments, hang your ornaments first in the middle of the branches, and then at the ends. This will make the tree look fuller, and reflective ornaments in the middle of the tree towards the trunk will reflect any lights you use and make it seem as though you have more of them.
  • For a designer effect, choose a dominant theme for the tree -- Stained glass, Victorian, silk or dried flowers, birds, St. Nicholas and other Saints, whatever you love. For every foot of the tree's height, use roughly 10 larger theme ornaments to every 25 smaller, more "generic" ornaments for color and fullness. Using green-colored hanging hooks, hang the smaller ornaments first, tapering the size of the ornaments so that the smallest ornaments are toward the top of the tree.
  • Some people decorate with chrismons -- monograms of Christ and other Christian symbols (e.g., different types of Crosses, a lamb, fish, anchor, pelican, etc.). Usually chrismons used to decorate Christmas trees are white and gold in color.
  • For a dramatic effect with inexpensive ornaments, take 1 large ball ornament, 1 medium sized one, and 1 small one, monochromatic or in the color scheme of your choice; bind their hangers together and adjust so that the small ornament sits highest, the medium-sized ornament sits in the middle, and the large one lies the lowest. Hang as a cluster.

5 There's a relatively recent American custom regarding the hiding of a special ornament for children to find. It's become not uncommon for parents to hide a green glass ornament shaped like a pickle -- and called the "German Pickle." This practice poses as an old-country German tradition, but is actually a charming German-American one -- and a clever one, too, in that the green pickle is challenging to spot among the green branches.



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Prayer; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; christmas; nativity
To add to your Christmas celebration.
1 posted on 12/22/2008 7:54:00 PM PST by Salvation
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Merry Christmas a couple of days early!

2 posted on 12/22/2008 7:55:36 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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Catholic Caucus: The 16 Days of Christmas (Christmas to the Baptism of the Lord)
Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas [An Underground Catechism]
Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" [Underground Catechism]

3 posted on 12/22/2008 8:15:23 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; All

MERRY CHRISTMAS!


4 posted on 12/23/2008 12:59:08 AM PST by Sun (Pray that God sends us good leaders. Please say a prayer now.)
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To: Salvation
Lots of good reading Salvation.

A Blessed Christmas to you and your family.

5 posted on 12/23/2008 5:41:27 AM PST by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: Sun

Merry Christmas! Thanks for all the wonderful threads you post.


6 posted on 12/23/2008 7:33:32 AM PST by tob2 (No retreat!)
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To: Salvation

I AM OUTTA HERE ~ the Catholic threads ~ TILL SOME TIME AFTER CHRISTMAS!

You all have a wonderful and blessed one!


7 posted on 12/23/2008 8:48:31 AM PST by incredulous joe ("No road is long with good company. " - Turkish Proverb)
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To: AdvisorB; onedoug; AnalogReigns; The_Media_never_lie; dixiebelle; voteNRA; valkyry1; Monkey Face; ..


A silent night,
a star above,
a blessed gift of hope
and love.


A blessed Christmas to you all, dear fellow FReepers!
8 posted on 12/23/2008 11:23:08 AM PST by lizol
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To: Salvation

Thank you Lizol, and a very merry Christmas to you and your wonderful Poland. May God Bless you all at this Holy time.


9 posted on 12/23/2008 12:03:19 PM PST by Camel Joe ("All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others"- The Pigs)
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To: Salvation

Oops wrong reply button but Merry Christmas just the same.


10 posted on 12/23/2008 12:04:44 PM PST by Camel Joe ("All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others"- The Pigs)
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To: lizol
Merry Christmas lizol!

May you and all of Poland forever rejoice at God's gift to all mankind!

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

11 posted on 12/23/2008 12:21:59 PM PST by rogue yam
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To: lizol

Wesolych Swiat i Szczesliwego Nowego Roku!

Thanks for all of your postings and pictures. They are much appreciated.

We were discussing today — is creamed herring more for Christmas Eve / Christmas or is it more a New Year’s tradition?


12 posted on 12/23/2008 1:18:35 PM PST by Tazlo (I need to get a tagline)
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To: Tazlo

Christmas Eve, defintely :-)

All the meals served during traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper are fasting ones (no meat, no poultry). And various kinds of fish are the most popular (usually herring and carp - served in many, many ways).


13 posted on 12/23/2008 1:36:08 PM PST by lizol
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To: lizol

Most beautiful work of art. Thanks so much for posting. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


14 posted on 12/23/2008 2:18:42 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: lizol

Thank you Lizol, and a blessed Christmas to you.
I love the picture you posted!


15 posted on 12/23/2008 4:26:46 PM PST by Gosh I love this neighborhood
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To: incredulous joe; tob2; Sun; Gerish; lizol; Camel Joe

Merry Christmas and many blessings for the new year.


16 posted on 12/23/2008 8:08:38 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: lizol
A Merry Christmas to you, lizol!

Thank you for the wonderful work you do on FR!

17 posted on 12/23/2008 8:46:42 PM PST by HoosierHawk
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To: lizol

Beautiful.


18 posted on 12/23/2008 8:52:46 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: lizol

Thanks and Merry Christmas FReepers!


19 posted on 12/24/2008 6:37:23 AM PST by dixiebelle
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To: Salvation; informavoracious; larose; RJR_fan; Prospero; Conservative Vermont Vet; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment

Obama: “If they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

20 posted on 12/24/2008 6:39:55 AM PST by narses (http://www.theobamadisaster.com/)
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To: lizol
Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia.
21 posted on 12/24/2008 3:06:28 PM PST by dfwgator (I hate Illinois Marxists)
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To: Salvation

Merry Christmas to you and to all at Free Republic!


22 posted on 12/24/2008 3:23:21 PM PST by Bishop_Malachi (Liberal Socialism - A philosophy which advocates spreading a low standard of living equally.)
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To: Bishop_Malachi
Merry Christmas!

23 posted on 12/24/2008 3:25:17 PM PST by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Tazlo

The custom I was taught was that if you ate creamed herring at midnight on New Years Day, you would have good luck all that year.


24 posted on 12/24/2008 3:44:16 PM PST by Bernard (If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember exactly what you said.)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
A Savior Has Been Born !
 

25 posted on 12/24/2010 9:17:13 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and all on FR!


26 posted on 12/24/2010 9:21:19 AM PST by Gerish (Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.)
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To: Salvation

Blessed Christmas and thanks for all your efforts.


27 posted on 12/24/2010 9:31:40 AM PST by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: Salvation; All
Merry Christmas!

28 posted on 12/25/2010 6:44:56 AM PST by Not gonna take it anymore
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To: Not gonna take it anymore; Gerish; ex-snook
 
 
A blessed Christmas to all of you!

29 posted on 12/25/2010 9:26:06 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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