Is Christmas over?

Just back from Evensong, where we sang Christmas hymns, had a reading from Luke 2, and a short sermon about the shepherds. This morning it was similar, as you would expect on the First Sunday of Christmas.

And yet in the world outside church, in the UK at least, Christmas is over. Classic fm is no longer playing wall-to- wall Carols. Many people have taken their decorations down. The sales are on and holidays are being booked.

Our preacher this morning said we should not ask “Did you have a good Christmas?” but “Are you having a good Christmas?” as it is not over yet. Traditionally there are the twelve days of Christmas which take us up to Twelfth Night, or Epiphany in the Church calendar.

Of course there is still plenty of mileage in the Christmas story, and we can ponder at length on the mystery of the incarnation, but should we fall into step with the culture of our surroundings? We fight off the world’s wish to sing carols whilst we are still in Advent, and some of us defer putting up our decorations as long as possible (though perhaps not until Christmas Eve, as used to be the custom.)

Is the church totally out of step, and does it matter?
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Comments

  • Puzzler wrote: »
    Is the church totally out of step, and does it matter?
    I’d say it’s the wider culture that has gotten out of step. And I think it does matter that the church not get totally in step with the culture on this one.

    I’m not advocating that anyone who dares sing a Christmas carol in a church context before the evening of Dec. 24th be boiled in their own pudding and buried with a sprig of holly through their heart. There can be some give, I think. But I also think there’s value in the church’s historical pattern that the wider culture could benefit from.

  • I think there can be some value in being slightly out of step with the broader culture. For one thing, one learns to think about choices and why we make them, and to defend them to others. (And with December as busy as it is, if I couldn't work on my Christmas cards after the 25th, there would be no hope that they'd ever go out.)

  • I also think that we can now have some time - as I did this morning - to reflect a bit more theologically on the meaning of the Incarnation, without getting enmired in the kiddies' stuff.
  • Well, the church has some interesting Calendrical anomalies at the present. The slaughter of the innocent happened on 27th Dec but the magi do not turn up to 6th Jan. Did it take Herod nearly a whole year to realise he had been made a fool of?
  • And today we had Jesus aged 12 in the Temple, before the Wise Men have even arrived.

    I am not saying we should abandon Christmas in church on 26 December - au contraire!

    Our preacher also remarked that the local Temple of Materialism, otherwise kniwn as the new Garden Centre, did not have amongst all their Christmas decorations, a single crib or nativity scene, and apparently their staff did not even know what was being requested!
    So perhaps we as Christians do need to be less reluctant to delay Christmas and more willing to share the good news with our neighbours whilst they are at least somewhat receptive to the idea.
  • @Jengie Jon, taking your question at face value, if Herod ordered the slaughter of everyone under two, it would not be unreasonable to suppose that he didn't realise he'd been rumbled for a while. And the Gospel account tells of the magi arriving at a "house" and not at an inn or a stable, which I was also taught indicated they arrived some time later.

    (Here in France by December 26 the supermarkets had already moved on to blanc ('white') sales, i.e. seasonal sales of household linen, which used to arrive only in January, as well as sales of the galette des rois, the traditional Epiphany pie).
  • I'm delighted that Christmas in the Church only begins on 25th December. Before I became a committed Christian, Christmas was thought of as over and done with on Boxing Day, but now I can look forward to it and then enjoy the Church season.

    I now leave the decorations up until 12th night too.
  • I was raised RCC in the 1950s, when the creche in the church (and our parish had very large sized statues) stayed in place until the feast of the Presentation/Purification on Feb. 2. In my childhood home the tree was in place until the Feast of the Baptism on Jan., 13, the mantle top creche until Feb 2. We milked the joy and specialness of the season for as long as we could before Lent intruded.

    But now....well, some neighbors have their tree out at the curb for pickup, and the decorative lights on their houses dimmed, wreathes removed. At Chez Wombat tree, lights, creche (aka Nativity scene) shall be in place until at least Epiphany on Jan. 6. When we lived in the hills, with no one to see other than the coyotes and deer, our lights burned brightly (thanks to timers) until mid January if not later, and what a joy it was to see them glowing as one drove up the hilly dirt road in the dark, the lights peeking out between trees, stars twinkling in the night sky to echo the joy. Sigh.......

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    BabyWombat wrote: »
    Some neighbors have their tree out at the curb for pickup, and the decorative lights on their houses dimmed, wreathes removed. At Chez Wombat tree, lights, creche (aka Nativity scene) shall be in place until at least Epiphany on Jan. 6. When we lived in the hills, with no one to see other than the coyotes and deer, our lights burned brightly (thanks to timers) until mid January if not later, and what a joy it was to see them glowing as one drove up the hilly dirt road

    I'm not convinced that houses decorated with lights, especially to the excess that people have done so here in the Phoenix area, captures the true spirit of Christmas.

    My modest decorations (wreath on the door, poinsettia and a very small tree out on the patio) will come down New Year's Day. I do understand the custom of leaving decorations up until Twelfth Night, but I think that leaving them up until Candelmas just invites them to become very, very old.

    Last year my neighbor left her poinsettia out on her patio until well after Ash Wednesday. She has a poinsettia out again this year. I'm tempted to place bets with my other neighbors as to when she'll take it down.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    BabyWombat wrote: »
    But now....well, some neighbors have their tree out at the curb for pickup, and the decorative lights on their houses dimmed, wreathes removed. At Chez Wombat tree, lights, creche (aka Nativity scene) shall be in place until at least Epiphany on Jan. 6.

    We were brought up to remove Christmas decorations on 6 January - Epiphany in the church year but 12th night in the secular one. Not a day before, not a day after. Fortunately our tree was a living one in a large tub, wheeled in and out as needed, so it survived that time bright and green. Not getting more and more bedraggled each day.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    (Here in France by December 26 the supermarkets had already moved on to blanc ('white') sales, i.e. seasonal sales of household linen, which used to arrive only in January, as well as sales of the galette des rois, the traditional Epiphany pie).
    One of the major supermarkets in Oz had hot cross buns on the shelves on the 26th.

    I enjoy listening to Christmas carols and such at this time. It does allow time for pondering the mystery of the Incarnation as Baptist Trainfan wrote.
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Puzzler wrote: »
    And today we had Jesus aged 12 in the Temple, before the Wise Men have even arrived.

    I know we like mix the two accounts together (and probably present a different message from those that Matthew and Luke are presenting), but Luke does not have magi bringing kingly, priestly, and deathly gifts.

    Here is a site with different traditions at Christmas.
  • Here the decorations will come down on January 6th, but several times they have come down on Boxing Day as we were moving parish. I have a vivid memory of my two, aged 2 and 4 sobbing as the tree came down on Boxing Day as we were moving. In the shops, not only are ther Hot cross buns as Climacus said, but also back to school sales,. School does not go back until January 30 or thereabouts, please postpone the evil day.😀
  • Hot cross buns on Boxing Day? Is outrage!
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    I will leave mine till Twelfth Night

    I found a pic for the front door of Border Collies in the snow racing Santa's sleigh in the sky - perfect for a non-Christian environment. Especially since we have a Border Collie ourselves.

    http://www.inkypaw.com/ccbordercollie.html
  • I will take outside decorations down on New Years Day, but will enjoy Christmas inside the house all 12 days. Last year I had a neighbor stop by and say, "What a good idea to still have Christmas up. It feels so peaceful in here, just like Christmas but without the stress."
    Exactly.
  • We leave the crib up until Candlemas
    Decorations until Epiphany- which brings me to the question I cannot get a definitive answer to..... for decorations is it twelfth night which is the 5th or Epiphany which is the 6th?!
    These things vex me which is quite honestly ridiculous given all the other stuff I've got going on!
  • Puzzler wrote: »
    <snip> Is the church totally out of step, and does it matter?

    No, its the secular world which is out of step, I suspect due to ignorance.

    On another thread (What did you sing at church today?) this is also being discussed.

    To summarise: at our place Christmas carols don't start to be sung until the 9 Lessons service, and continue to be sung up to Epiphany. And general Christmastide/Epiphanytide carols will continue right up to the end of the season, which is 2nd February (Candlemas/ Visitation).

    On the subject of the crib, our kings are moved closer to the stable scene each day from Christmas Day and will arrive for 6th January.

    Decorations? Trees, etc, down on 12th night (5th January); outside lights, candles, etc, stay in place until 2nd February.
  • Leaving aside the church calendar, I've often thought it sad that cheery decorations are taken down in early January. We have dark, drisly wintery days into late February (or longer), it seems a shame that there are few decorations around to cheer things up a bit.

    I can understand that it's a bit passé for some - but I think I'd appreciate winter decorations that continue through the dark months.
  • Decorations will be up here until Twelfth Night and the crib in church used to remain until Candlemas with the kings/magi processed in during the Epiphany service.

    (There are hot cross buns available in the shops here too. We were looking at a gluten free version yesterday that will go out of date in the next day or two in one of the shops.)
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    We spent Christmas in Germany and saw many, many trees being bought and transported on top of cars on Christmas Eve.

    Personally it all comes down here on New Year’s Day - no religious reason, I just want to get ‘straight’ and tidy/clean up. :smile:
  • Once the Christmas money is spent there is no more need of Christmas, at least from a media and advertising point of view. I always judge the Christmas period by the dates on the Radio Times double issue so my Christmas finishes this Friday. Looking forward to Cream Eggs already!
  • I thought the whole point of the Radio Times double issue was to advertise next summer's holidays?
  • Putting two previous points together ( sorry, I am not good at multiple quoting), as lights are not especially Christmassy, I too, like Mr Cheesy would like to see them stay on outdoors to brighten up the dull days of January.
  • I thought the whole point of the Radio Times double issue was to advertise next summer's holidays?

    That's just filler, I can't believe anybody who reads the RT would leave it so late to book their holiday. Its a bit like Christmas Pudding recipes that come out in December.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    I can't believe anybody who reads the RT would leave it so late to book their holiday.
    We haven't ... but, then, we're not habitual readers of the RT.

  • In the Orthodox Church, today is the Leavetaking of the Nativity. It's the last day that we sing the Troparion and Kontakion for the feast.

    But that doesn't mean that Christmas decorations have to come down.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    We have dark, drisly wintery days into late February
    Call me strange, but personally I like to celebrate the darkness of winter. My patio remains bare from New Years Day into February, when I will put out some pussy willows. In March I'll put out forsythia. Of course the lilies come out at Eastertide.
  • NenyaNenya Shipmate
    Boogie wrote: »
    Personally it all comes down here on New Year’s Day - no religious reason, I just want to get ‘straight’ and tidy/clean up. :smile:

    I'm the same, as I said on the Sprouts thread in All Saints. I like the idea of different timing, and being able to be more reflective about the Incarnation once the busy-ness of Christmas is over, but it just isn't practical for us. And our decorations are up by mid-December because that's when my birthday is and when I was a kid my mum always maintained the decorations had to be up by my birthday. It therefore doesn't feel right unless they are. But once the new year is here I have left Christmas behind in my own mind.

    My (Baptist) church has pretty much left Christmas behind too. Last Sunday was about candles and Jesus the light of the world but we didn't sing anything Christmassy at all.
  • We're Baptist (well, Ecumenical with a strong Baptist flavour) and we haven't got to the Magi yet.
  • Once got a stern talking-to from the homeowner's association for leaving up decorations after New Years Day. Explained to them that Christmas has 12 days, etc. etc. They were not impressed. Left it up anyway.
  • mr cheesy wrote: »
    We have dark, drisly wintery days into late February
    Call me strange, but personally I like to celebrate the darkness of winter. My patio remains bare from New Years Day into February, when I will put out some pussy willows. In March I'll put out forsythia. Of course the lilies come out at Eastertide.

    I guess it depends on who you are.

    For me, already fearful of what is to come in 2019, taking down the lights feels like a first defeat to the gloom.
  • Just a liturgical sidebar:

    One often overlooked uniqueness of the CofE is that they are the only mainline church that I know of that properly has an "Epiphany Season" from Epiphany to Candlemas. When I was in seminary in Toronto, it was banged into my head by my liturgical studies professor that there is no such thing as "Epiphany Season" in churches that observe the Revised Common Lectionary. Epiphany properly ends on the evening of the Baptism of Christ and until Ash Wednesday, it is termed "Ordinary Time."

    So, liturgically, except if you are in the CofE, there is little justification IMHO for having nativity scenes until Candlemas, because Christmas is understood to be over, on the evening of the Feast of the Epiphany. And it makes little sense having the baby Jesus in the cradle, when the readings of the Gospel between Baptism of Christ to Lent, with the exception of February 2nd centre on the adult Jesus in his ministry.
  • We have some pretty led lights on twigs up all year round :smile:
  • The large proportion of people from what is lumped together as Ukrainian here means Xmas is 06/07 Jan. And the weather is cold (-36°C this morning) and days are so short. So any excuse to continue the season comes easily.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Just a liturgical sidebar:

    One often overlooked uniqueness of the CofE is that they are the only mainline church that I know of that properly has an "Epiphany Season" from Epiphany to Candlemas. When I was in seminary in Toronto, it was banged into my head by my liturgical studies professor that there is no such thing as "Epiphany Season" in churches that observe the Revised Common Lectionary. Epiphany properly ends on the evening of the Baptism of Christ and until Ash Wednesday, it is termed "Ordinary Time."

    So, liturgically, except if you are in the CofE, there is little justification IMHO for having nativity scenes until Candlemas, because Christmas is understood to be over, on the evening of the Feast of the Epiphany. And it makes little sense having the baby Jesus in the cradle, when the readings of the Gospel between Baptism of Christ to Lent, with the exception of February 2nd centre on the adult Jesus in his ministry.
    Is outrage, how very outrage.

    Back when all services were 1662, and before seasons outside the key ones came down from the clouds censed by our dear late Father Lubricius Staggers whose tragic death in 1952, poisoned after consuming an entire bucket of cleaning fluid after he had discovered that a cleaner had rinsed a purificator in it that had mopped up a spillage, has deprived us of the only person who truly knew about these things, Sundays after Epiphany rolled on until Sundays counted back from Easter caught up with them.

    Under the current calendar, there's a good reason for having an Epiphany Season. Epiphany being "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles" the Season is about aspects of this, the Sunday after being Baptism of Christ, then a week for Christian Unity , which will contain a Sunday, and then specific material on Mission, linked also to the Conversion of St Paul on 25th January. So Candlemas is a convenient place to transfer back to ordinary time.

    It's all explained in the additional book in the Common Worship suite, that deals with seasons. And I'm not even high church!


    I agree, though, that Christmas decorations and the crib should go by 5th or 6th January at the latest. There's a long history of disagreement whether it is the evening of the 5th or the 6th by which they should have been removed.
  • As this year The 6th is a Sunday, it would be seemly to remove decorations on Saturday, to keep Sunday free of such mundane tasks
    ( and please the LDOS ).
  • Through January 6 for us, which means things typically come down on the 7th. But since the 6th is a Sunday this year, who knows.

    And yes, we fall into @Anglican Brat’s “no season of Epiphany” understanding. That doesn’t mean the pre-Lent Ordinary Time Sundays can’t be Sundays “after Epiphany,” or that the readings can’t continue some themes.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    The trees and other decorations chez Piglet will stay up until 6th January; the candle-bridges and Nativity characters will stay in place until Candlemas.
  • Puzzler wrote: »
    As this year The 6th is a Sunday, it would be seemly to remove decorations on Saturday, to keep Sunday free of such mundane tasks
    ( and please the LDOS ).
    Well, when else would you take them down? The evening of the 5th is when they ought to come down, being Twelfth Night and all that... :grin:
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The reason there are twelve days of Christmas is because as Christianity was established in Rome, the Roman Calendar stopped on Dec 25 and then did not start until what we know as January 6. This was the season of Santoria--a season of debauchery. Christians answered this with the season of Christmas.

    In the Orthodox Churches, families do not give gifts until 6 Jan.

    This next Sunday we will have our Epiphany Chili Feed, This is to remember the Wise Men brought Spice to the Holy Child. This year I will be making a very unique Hawaiian Chili--it has pineapple chunks in it.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    The reason there are twelve days of Christmas is because as Christianity was established in Rome, the Roman Calendar stopped on Dec 25 and then did not start until what we know as January 6. This was the season of Santoria--a season of debauchery. Christians answered this with the season of Christmas.
    I think you mean Saturnalia. It began on Dec. 17 and ended on the 23rd, I think. It may have had some influence on the date and development of Christmas, though just how much is debatable, but it’s not the origin of the 12 days. The 12 days have to do with the development of Christmas and Epiphany as separate feasts.

  • Jan 6 was the oldest date for Christmas, and is still the one used by the Armenians/Copts/Tawehedo. Later it was moved to December 25 because it had to be 9 months after the Annunciation. Leaving Jan 6 dangling, so it was assigned something too -- in the east, the baptism of Christ; in the west the visit of the Magi.
  • josephinejosephine Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    In the Orthodox Churches, families do not give gifts until 6 Jan.

    That depends. Some families have their gift-giving on St. Nicholas Day. Some (especially Greeks) give gifts on St. Basil's Day. In my experience, most give gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, December 25.

    December 24 on the Old Calendar = January 6 on the New Calendar.

    And, of course, Orthodox days start at sundown. So if they exchange gifts on the evening of January 6 on the calendar everyone else uses, they aren't exchanging gifts on Theophany. they're exchanging gifts on Christmas. December 25. Just on the Old Calendar.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited January 7
    Climacus wrote: »
    One of the major supermarkets in Oz had hot cross buns on the shelves on the 26th.

    The fact that this strikes you as remarkable suggests that hot cross buns are still seen as seasonal treats by the supermarkets where you are, even if they have lost sense of the original timing. Here, they available all year round.

    To be honest, this pleases me. I didn't grow up with hot cross buns, (them not being part of Caribbean culture, and not being one of those elements of British culture that found its way into my family's traditions) so they don't really have any religious associations for me.

    However, there is a traditional Caribbean spiced, glazed, and sometimes fruited bun (without a cross) that is very similar and has no religious or seasonal significance. Not living near to an area with a large Caribbean population with markets that might sell these treats from my childhood, hot cross buns are the closest thing I can easily find. I'd be very disappointd if they were only available for part of the year. I have them with mature cheddar. Yum.
    Just a liturgical sidebar:

    One often overlooked uniqueness of the CofE is that they are the only mainline church that I know of that properly has an "Epiphany Season" from Epiphany to Candlemas. When I was in seminary in Toronto, it was banged into my head by my liturgical studies professor that there is no such thing as "Epiphany Season" in churches that observe the Revised Common Lectionary. Epiphany properly ends on the evening of the Baptism of Christ and until Ash Wednesday, it is termed "Ordinary Time."

    We don't follow the RCL and I don't think we fit with what our North American friends would call mainline churches, but for the sake of interest I thought I'd mention that the Western Orthodox Communion does have an Epiphany season, lasting for five Sundays after the feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January and including, among other things, the feast of Theophany on the Sunday after Epiphany and the feast of the Holy Encounter on the 2nd of February.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Do Orthodoxen in the West buy up all the reduced Christmas goodies after our Christmas? I've always wondered.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Do Orthodoxen in the West buy up all the reduced Christmas goodies after our Christmas? I've always wondered.

    When I belonged to a parish on the old calendar, that's precisely what we did. :smile:

    Of course, many Orthodox (in fact, possibly most in the UK) follow the new calendar.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited January 8
    Good when Easters differ...all those discount eggs and bunnies.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    And I think I need a trip to the Caribbean to try those buns!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Climacus wrote: »
    And I think I need a trip to the Caribbean to try those buns!

    It seems an awfully long way to travel for a couple of nice buns.
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