Saturday, January 9, 2016

We're So Glad We've Had This Time Together

Well, it's the first Saturday after Epiphany, and time to take down the Christmas lights, trees, wreaths, and stockings. At least at our house.

My Dad always made it a point to de-Christmasify the house on January 6, Epiphany. Back when we had live trees, they went out to the curb, until he started taking them back to the compost pile. Once we started using artificial trees, they went up to the attic.

My husband and I got the outside lights taken down today before the rain started and the bitter cold that is predicted to follow behind it. We were going to tackle the tree today, but only got as far as getting the empty boxes for the ornaments up from the basement.

This is not our tree, thank God.
One of the churches where I work is also "un-hanging the greens" today, but the other, with a largely Latino congregation, will leave Christmas up until February 2. The Anglo members were initially mystified by this practice, wondering if the Latinos were ever going to put their Christmas diorama away at all. The custom stems from a Mexican practice of leaving Christmas decorations up until Candelaria, Presentation of Our Lord, which is always on Ground Hog Day.

This custom obviously comes from people who don't try to keep a live tree in the house until eight days before Ash Wednesday.

Latinos are not the only ones who try to extend the Christmas season beyond the church-proscribed twelve days. The Scandinavian Lutheran Church tried to popularize having 20 days of Christmas in honor of the sainted Danish Prince Knut Lavard, Duke of Schleswig, who was martyred on January 7, 1169. Somewhere along the line, his Saint's Day got moved back a week from the seventh to the thirteenth.
Tjugondag Knut translates into “20th Day Knut,” which refers to the 20th day after Christmas Eve. This used to be the day when Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians would ransack the tree of the candy and cookies it had been adorned with before Christmas and then kick it to the curb, so to speak.
Happily, nobody has subjected the rest of us to songs of what their true love sent to them on twenty days of Christmas ... let alone the forty days from December 25 to February 2.

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