Christmas/Talk

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O.K., many of the Orthodox resisted switching to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, and so though their societies run on the Gregorian calendar, they continue to celebrate their religious holidays according to the Julian one. That means a difference in date. It does not mean that they do not celebrate on the 25th. --MichaelTinkler

If you want to be real specific, Dec 24 Christmas Eve is the most important part of German Xmas and I believe other Europeans too? Everyone goes to church and celebrates on the 24st. 25th is the gathering of the family to the traditional Christmas goose dinner.26th is the 2. Xmas day.H. Jonat

Helga, I hate to break it to you, but the 24th is 'most important' because of the Catholic Church (papal propaganda?). In the middle ages monks developed the custom of celebrating the vigil or 'evening before' (hence, 'eve') of feasts. This practice is known technically as 'anticipation'; in other words, 'starting early'. Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil (the night before Easter) are still the most important two night-time services in Catholicism. --MichaelTinkler

To MichaelTinkler No need to break it to me, Protestant church is in the evening, Catholic church is at midnight. Used to go to both. To the anticipation you might want to add the "Advent" , another part of Xmas , greatly overlooked and "forgotten" in USA but very important other places. Back to the propaganda- http://www.newadvent.org/cathgen/12456a.htm dates the official phase of the propaganda start in 1572 . That is of course only when it was actually recorded as such.When I use it I should put it in " ". The seperat German Mythology is a good idea. But the whole thing with Mythology (Asatru) or whatever (for me) goes too much into the unreal . The German(ic) gods, were not really gods in that sence, more an attempt of explaining natural phenomina and should probably rather be called nature spirits instead of the English word gods. I would like to know what Stabreim (the type of poem) is in English though H. Jonat


You should not use the term 'papal propaganda' to describe late antique and early medieval evangelization efforts even in quotation marks because it is anachronistic. Evangelization was not coordinated by the popes, nor was there an official institution in Rome to train missionaries before the late renaissance. For instance, St. Boniface was not sent by the popes. He volunteered. He went. He was sponsored by the Franks. The popes accepted his mission, but did not send him. If you want to make a general statement, say 'Christian missionaries.' It has the advantage of being both correct and neutral. Stabreim is usually translated as alliteration, and the form is called alliterative poetry. --MichaelTinkler

Don't know about other Christians in America, but the Catholics, Anglicans (Episcopalians), and Lutherans I know (the ones who actually go to church) ALL know about Advent, and many light Advent candles... JHK

To MichaelTinkler and JHK Thank you both. I have never heard of alliteration poetry and would have never thought of translating or explaining Stabreimverse that way. I see that you are touchy about 'papal propaganda' and will remind myself not to use it.

Maybe we do want to add "Advent" to the Christmas page ? H. Jonat


Actually, I think that there needs to be some kind of Liturgical year page or section somewhere -- to Christianity rather than to Christmas, though. Also (and I am speaking for Michael without his authority) I think the objection is not to the use of 'papal propaganda', but the fact that you are misusing the term, because it has a very specific historical meaning. In the general vein of being touchy, I know that I am particularly so whan an article does not address the purported subject, or when the conclusions drawn in the article have no basis in historical fact <nowiki>and/or<nowiki> method. I guess that's the problem with open content -- you have enough people who care from a professional, as well as a personal, point of view, and we edit as if we were editing the work of our peers -- except that we're nicer on the wiki! J Hofmann Kemp


When the article says Eastern Orthodox celebrate on "the civil date of January 7", does that mean by the Gregorian or Julian calendar? If I suspect they mean the Gregorian calendar by "civil", what date do they celebrate it on by the Julian? (I understand they still set Christmas by the Julian.) In which case, we better give the Julian, not Gregorian date, since the Gregorian date will move over time, but the Julian date will remain the same forever (or at least until such time as the Eastern Orthodox decide to finally switch totally to the Gregorian calendar :) -- SJK


There are a couple more wrinkles to the Eastern Orthodox calendar here, and I only half understand them. One is that there's a third calendar involved called the Revised Julian Calendar, which was adopted by many Orthodox in about 1923. It's used by the Orthodox Church in America, among others. For the most part, it brings them into sync with the Gregorian Calendar so they both agree on when a given date occurs (no more 10 or 13 day differential), and it keeps the Spring Equinox on March 21. But they also calculate Easter according to the 325A.D. method, same as the Old Calendarists, so that all Orthodox still celebrate Easter on the same day, along with the movable feasts that are based on N days or Sundays before or after Easter.

Now with regard to Christmas in particular, this feast used to be combined with Theophany ("Epiphany" in the West?), which falls on January 6 and is all about Christ's baptism. In both feasts, Christ is revealed to the world, first simply by being born into it, in the second through the voice from Heaven and the blessing of the Holy Spirit acknowledging who He is, and also revealing God as three persons, since all three are present in that scene. At any rate, the date of Theophany on one calendar comes pretty close to the date of Christmas on the other; I suspect the time between them might be the famous "12 days of Christmas" though I'm not sure; guess I need to research this better.

Also with regard to Advent, the Orthodox observe a 40 day fast, sometimes called "Winter Lent", leading up to Christmas, or the Feast of the Nativity. It's not as strict as Great Lent which leads up to Easter, and exact fasting guidelines vary between jurisdictions. --Wesley