Gently fighting for Christmas

Merry Christmas.No, honest, as in "the 12 days of" you know what between Dec. 25 and Jan. 5.If you doubt the accuracy of this statement, you can head over to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There you will find an interactive calendar that bravely documents the fact that, according to centuries of Christian tradition, the quiet season called Advent has just ended and the 12-day Christmas season has just begun.So cease stripping the decorations off your tree and … [Read more...]

The 30-something days of Xmas

There was a time when Christians did not celebrate a season that could be called the 30-something days of Christmas.In the year of our Lord 1939, the National Retail Dry Goods Association asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving to the next-to-last Thursday in November. This was strategic, since President Abraham Lincoln had proclaimed the last Thursday of the month as the official holiday. This meant that Thanksgiving was occasionally delayed until a fifth Thursday -- a cruel … [Read more...]

What is a ‘carol’ anyway?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Second of two columns on traditional carols.The story begins with the Empress Helena, who commanded that the relics of the Wise Men of the East be brought to Byzantium.These three skulls were eventually taken to Milan and, in 1162, to Cologne. According to folk tradition, the relics made their journey from Bethlehem to Cologne in three ships. As minstrels kept singing the songs, the destination changed and so did the identity of the travelers.The result was a carol: "I saw three … [Read more...]

A Caroling We (Don’t) Go

Sometime just before Christmas, maestro Patrick Kavanaugh will gather a few friends to take part in a quietly subversive public rite.Slipping from house to house under cover of darkness, it is their intention to sing pieces of explicit, doctrinal religious music to family, neighbors and even strangers. They do this every year, even if it is snowing.Historians refer to this rare activity as "Christmas caroling.""People really do love it," said Kavanaugh, conductor for the Christian Performing … [Read more...]


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