Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The True Christmas Season


These days we start thinking about the end of Christmas.  I say thinking about it, because, in our home, Christmas is not over.  Not yet.
During the first weeks of December, there was Advent.  We lit the candles, one more for each Sunday, until we had all four of them burning.  There were the Advent calendars, the rehearsing of Christmas songs and carols, the baking of cookies and goodies, the writing of Christmas cards and, of course the gift making/buying/wrapping.
Then, a few days before Christmas we went out and got our tree , and the night before Christmas Eve we decorated it, when the kids were asleep.  They woke up on Christmas Eve to a house all transformed for Christmas.  The glittering tree, the special tablecloths and flowers, wreaths and garlands.  During that day there is Church, and there is Christmas dinner.  Then, on Christmas Day we open our gifts, and the party goes on with toys and goodies, parties and Christmas movies, reading and playing.
In Norway we have 1st and 2nd Day of Christmas as public holidays.  But, many Norwegians take more time off, and they celebrate also the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Day of Christmas.  Then comes New Year's Eve, and we have another public holiday the day after.
School starts over around January 3rd, but Christmas is not over yet!  On January 6th we celebrate Epiphany , as we share the special Kings' cake (Galette des rois) , a tradition we brought with us from France.  Then, when the 12 Days of Christmas and the Kings' Day have been celebrated, we start removing the decorations and we move out of the Christmas Season.
This is the traditional way of celebrating Christmas in our part of the world, and it used to be like this also in the US.  But, as I read it on an American Catholig web site : (Future Catholic)
"Christmastime now starts sometime in August and pretty much ends at Christmas (except for those people who leave their Christmas lights on till Easter).  We need to bring some meaning and structure back to the Christmas season."
In Norway, it hasn't been like this at all, until very recently.  Nowadays, people tend to start celebrating earlier and earlier, like they are in a hurry to "be done" with it all, and when Christmas comes, they've had enough already.  They just want to get rid of it all.
Then, we end up with a Christmas Season which has been pushed back, to become mostly about the stash and the rush, and we stress around like crazy, getting things done,  missing out on the contemplative, meditative spirit of Advent, as well as the party, fun and glory that Christmas should be, because when Christmas is finally here, we're tired, exhausted and just want for normal life to get on.
Another New Year's Wish:
Let's keep the Christmas Season, the true Christmas Season.  Let the children find it hard to sleep, because they're tingling inside with Christmas dreams of gifts and goodies and Santa Claus.  Don't destroy it with starting it too early.  Please!



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