Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Little Christmas

Today is the last day of twelve days of Christmas. It goes by various names - the Epiphany, Three Kings Day, Little Christmas. In many cultures, this is the traditional gift-giving day of the Christmas season, as this is the day commemorating the visit of the Three Kings to the Child Jesus. 

Star of Bethlehem, by Edward Burne-Jones, 19th c. has a whole page dedicated to traditional observances of the Epiphany.

Generally, the Wisemen are credited with leaving gifts, but in Italy, La Befana is said to do so. She was a good witch who provided lodgings for the Wisemen on their way to Bethlehem, They asked her to accompany them on remainder of the journey, but she declined, being too busy. She had a change of heart later on, however, and attempted to find the Child of Whom they had spoken.

La Befana the Christmas witch, said to walk or fly about Italy on her broom putting gifts in stockings or giving presents on Epiphany eve, January 5th, looking for the Christ child or her own or keeping watch over all children. She may be related to the Sabine/Roman Goddess Strenua who gave out New Years gifts:

My family has always celebrated Little Christmas. On Christmas morning, we all choose a gift to set aside for the Epiphany, and the Wisemen always come a leave another small gift or two as well. We have a dinner very similar to our Christmas dinner, and it is, in every way, a Little Christmas for us. It is rather a lovely way of keeping the spirit of the season throughout the entire season. 

It is rather late in the day to be posting this, I know, but this medley seems like a good way to end out the Long Christmas:

From the Propers of today's Mass: Alleluia, alleluia.We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord. Alleluia.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Toast!

Today is Tolkien's Birthday. It is a festive day on this blog. We celebrate it by reading Tolkien books, listening to Tolkien music, watching Tolkien things - whether it be movies or lectures concerning the Professor is up to you - and, most importantly, filling one's cup with goodly drink, and toasting, "The Professor" at 9 pm precisely.

Today, however, I did something slightly different. I got bold. And, perhaps, a wee bit more nerdy that is usual, even for myself. Today, I joined The Tolkien Society. I get a card. I get subscriptions to Amon Hen and Mallorn magazines. I get a 15% discount if I want to take classes through the Mythgard Institute. I get the huge feeling of satisfaction that can only come to Tolkien fans, when they join and organisation that still counts him as its President. (Though the VP, his daughter, Priscilla, does most the work.)

Since I would dearly love for all of you to have something both Christmasy and Tolkien related so that all of you too, may celebrate the Author of the Century, I present this talk on The Father Christmas Letters. It is long(ish). But watch it anyway.

I hope you are all enjoying a splendid Christmas season, that the New Year has been good to you all thus far, and that you take a moment to wish J. R. R. Tolkien a happy birthday.