As we go through this last day of November, those who haven’t already started celebrating Christmas, shopping and getting everything ready, will likely delve right in this weekend. Though we have gotten a good jump on things this year, I know how easily things can get behind and stressful if they aren’t taken care of right away. My goals for this weekend will be to get the decoration boxes put away again, wrap the gifts we have already purchased and get a start on our Christmas cards. If I can get a LOT of this done by next weekend, we’ll just be able to sit back and enjoy baking, going to see Christmas lights and anticipating being with the people we love for the holiday. That’s really what is important, right? So many equate getting together with family with stress, and there are stressful aspects of it to be sure, but that’s true of all families in all parts of the world and has been for all of history. That doesn’t take away from the love and shouldn’t overshadow the fun and the creation of beautiful memories together.
Verse of the Day
November 29, 2018
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
Our thankgiving arises from the nature of God and his glory and goodness. The steadfast reason we give thanks is because God is good and his love is inexhaustible, beyond decay, and never ending.
November 30, 2018
The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
Holiness is that forgotten character virtue that is the Christian’s reflection of God, his or her holy and righteous Father. In a day when grace is so easily cheapened, when anything goes just as long as we want to be buddies with Jesus, Peter’s words should shock us into reverence — the holy commitment to set our lives apart from the evil and satanic sludge that defiles our world and to offer our bodies, hearts, and minds to do his will and reflect his character.
History of Christmas
It may be a big surprise to a lot of people that the Christmas celebration we know and love today is not the way it started out. Honestly, it wasn’t even remotely close and parts of it will actually make you wonder how it is we managed to get to where we are today. Let’s jump right in – this one could get a little long, but there’s a lot to cover.
The timeline for celebration of Christ’s birth is very confusing and twisted, taking oddball turns along the way. Each year Christmas is celebrated on December 24, December 25, January 7 and January 19, depending on which religion is doing the celebrating. It has deep cultural and spiritual roots and is celebrated by millions of people around the world.
We start with December 25th as the date chosen to be the birthdate of Jesus. There have been many disputes over the years about this date since the Biblical account has the shepherds watching their flocks by night, which wouldn’t happen in December since the shepherds had their sheep all snug and warm in stables and barns in the winter time, so the authentic date is likely closer to spring. So how did we get to this day? It was decided by a Scythian monk by the name of Dionysius Exiguus. He did quite a bit of research, and along with other religious leaders of his day, combined the celebration with pagan celebrations, and with the intent of obliterating the pagan rituals, plopped Christmas right in there to assume the focus.
The Roman pagans celebrated Saturnalia, which was a week of hedonistic celebrations that spanned from December 17 – 25. The Roman courts were closed, and the law said that citizens could not be punished for damaging property or hurting people during the feasting. They believed that their celebrations destroyed the forces of evil, so to that end they picked a community victim, forced them to indulge in food and festivities and at the end of the week they murdered the victim. This is AWFUL and I’m really grateful that this particular celebration doesn’t happen any longer! In the 4th century many pagans were successfully converted to Christianity, though they were also allowed to continue to celebrate Saturnalia, but the connection to the annual festivities now had a connection to the birth of Christ since church leaders tacked the date of December 25th onto the festivities as his birthday. For any years the people were allowed to continue to celebrate with lawlessness, much drinking, sexual indulgences and singing naked in the streets. Many of our modern traditions came from this such as singing carols, but now the singers wear clothes, and instead of eating human flesh, they eat human-shaped biscuits that are now called Gingerbread Men. Somehow my love of Gingerbread Men feels a little less happy. I may be using a different shaped cookie cutter this year!
The pagan celebrations died out as they were converted to Christianity, and the Puritans did not observe at all because of its origins. Others continued to celebrate both Saturnalia and Christmas together, perfectly happy to have both parts combined. In 1466, under the leadership of Pope Paul II, Saturnalia was intentionally revived to go along with the Christmas celebrations and for the amusement of Rome, Jews were forced to run naked through the streets of the city. The anti-Semitic abuse of Jews in Europe continued through the late 1800s, including such horrible things as the acceptance of murder, rape and maiming of Jews during the celebrations connected with the birth of Christ. The Saxons (Germanic tribes of Europe) converted to Christianity, bringing the world “yule” to the celebration. Yule means mid-winter, and the word became synonymous with Jesus’ birthday. The burning of a Yule log and lighting a Yule candle was followed for many centuries.
Many Christmas celebrations were not defined clearly until the mid-19th century and not thought to be all that important until many years later. Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable Christmas traditions and one that was added during the mid-19th century but is one that started very early in the Christian timeline. Nicholas was born in Parara, Turkey in 270 CE, and would later become the Bishop of Mara, named a saint after his death in the 19th century. He was actually the only saint named during that time period. According to what I’ve read, he was one of the senior bishops who attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. This Council created the New Testament texts. Nicholas was very well-liked and popular at the time, rising to cult status. His bones were enshrined in a sanctuary in Italy, replacing a local deity that was known as “the Grandmother”. She had been regarded as a benevolent deity who filled children’s stockings with gifts. Members of Nicholas’ cult gathered each year to celebrate his death on December 6th, with reverence for him spreading north to reach the Germanic and Celtic pagans, where his image was combined with Woden, the chief god of Germanic tradition. His image lost his dark Mediterranean looks, taking on the appearance of Woden with a long, white beard, riding a winged horse and wearing cold weather clothing. In a bid by the Catholic church to convert the pagans, they accepted the celebrations of Saint Nicholas, but moved his feasting day from December 6th to December 25th.
A satire of Dutch culture, Washington Irving’s Knickerbocker History, in 1809, brought back Saint Nick to the forefront. They referred to a white-bearded horse-flying Saint Nick, who the Dutch called Santa Claus, making him popular again. Less than 20 years later Dr. Clement Moore read the Knickerbocker History and wrote the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” where Santa’s place once again evolved to have him going down chimneys and being carried on a reindeer drawn sleigh. It is this image that we have today, and to whom millions of children write letters each year to tell him what they want for Christmas.
Some of this is disturbing, but every tradition comes from somewhere and the ones we celebrate and love today has nothing to do with torture, human sacrifice or anything disturbing, but is about love, caring, sharing and accepting the gift to our lives that Jesus Christ was to us.
November 29 –
Square Dancing Day – I’ve never actually done any square dancing, but I do know people who do! They really seem to enjoy it! Do you know where it originated though? English, Irish and Scottish settlers brought square dancing to the United States. Over time it evolved to become unique to this country. A caller was added, which helped dancers stay in step. It is very popular among southern and western rural areas, and with senior citizens. Couples can dance in circle or square formations, it is lively and quick and lots of fun. Good exercise too! I don’t know that it’s something I’d want to do, but you never know. Maybe someday.
November 30 –
Cities for Life Day – This is one I won’t be celebrating. This is one that is set up by cities that are trying to abolish the death penalty. Since I completely believe that the death penalty, if used properly (which it isn’t), would go a long way towards deterring crime, I would be hypocrite if I didn’t speak out AGAINST abolishing the death penalty.
Computer Security Day – Look around you every day. What do you see? I know that what I see is a population that is completely dependent on their technology in the form of phones, tablets and computers. On the one hand it helps people become more efficient, but there are more security issues that go along with it. This day was intended to raise awareness of the need to keep our data safe and security.
National Mason Jar Day – I love Mason Jars. I use them to take smoothies or iced tea to work. I have some lantern toppers that fit on top of them, so I can fill the jars with lantern oil and use them for light. There are tea light holders to put inside of Mason Jars to use a beautiful decorations AND light. I’ve seen special lids and straws to use with them as well. Obviously, Mason Jars are used for preserving foods, and they are perfect for that, but over the years they have become so much more.
Stay Home Because You’re Well Day – As nice as I suppose this would be, I’m not sure the folks at Wellcat.com understand the hardship they’d be putting employers through if everyone took advantage and celebrated this one. They aren’t suggesting anyone lie, they are saying to call in “well” to work and tell them you are staying home. Somehow, I don’t think this is right, and could cost someone their job. Use discretion if you are considering this, OK? I get to celebrate it today because its already my day off! That worked out nicely, didn’t it?
This Day in History –
1782 – The United Stated and Great Britain sign a peace treaty in Paris, formally ending the Revolutionary War.
Food Celebration of the Day
National Lemon Cream Pie Day – This Southern specialty is traditionally served on a butter pie crust, but feel free to get a little playful: shortbread and graham cracker taste divine, too!
- Lemon Cream Pie
- Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie
- Creamy Lemon Meringue Pie
- Lemon Cream Cheese Pie
- Creamy Lemon Pie
- Lemon Truffle Pie
- Lemon Cake Pie
National Mousse Day – Fun fact: Teeny, tiny air bubbles (from whipped egg whites or cream) are to thank for a mousse’s signature delicate and light-as-a-feather texture.
- Chocolate Mousse
- Sweet Potato Mousse With Praline Sauce
- Strawberry Mousse
- Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Limoncello, Raspberry & Mascarpone Mousse
- Low-Carb Mousse
- Minty Chocolate Mousse Pie
- The word mousse is French and translates as “froth” or “foam.”
- Cold dessert mousses are often poured into decorative glasses and garnished with fruit, sweet sauces, or whipped cream.
- Savory mousses can be made from fish, shellfish, meat, foie gras, etc.
- There are three key constituents to a mousse: base, binder, and aerator.
- They may be hot or cold and are often squeezed through a piping bag onto some kind of platform to be used as hors d’oeuvres.
Savory mousse dishes were an 18th century French achievement. Dessert mousses (generally fruit mousses) began to appear much later, in the second half of the 19th century.
The first written record of chocolate mousse in the United States comes from a Food Exposition held at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1892.
Chocolate mousse came into the public eye in the U.S. in the 1930s, about the time as chocolate pudding mixes were introduced.
It took me quite a bit longer to write the history of Christmas today, so I need to go grab some lunch, then dive in to getting some things on my list tackled today so I can enjoy the fun stuff tomorrow – listing the gifts we have purchased, wrapping them, starting Christmas cards . . . you know, the fun stuff. Who knows? I may get some cookies made while I’m at it! Now THAT’s the fun stuff. God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.
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Celebration list sources: