Thursday, December 20, 2012
|As mentioned elsewhere, the Christmas tree was traditionally put up only on Christmas Eve and taken down on Twelfth Night, the Vigil of the Epiphany. The reason for this is that contrary to popular belief, the Christmas tree was not a Christian "baptism" of pagan yule traditions, but an entirely Christian symbol. In the Eastern churches December 24 was the Feast of Adam and Eve, our first parents. Though this feast has never been|
observed in the Latin calendar, church officials nevertheless allowed Roman Catholics to appropriate this Oriental custom. In the Middle Ages special mystery plays were held on this day which featured a Paradise Tree, a tree representing both the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as well as the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Thus the tree was decorated with apples (for the forbidden fruit) and sweets (for the Tree of Life). When the mystery plays were suppressed during the fifteenth century, the faithful moved the Paradise trees from the stage into their homes. The apples were later substituted for other round objects (such as shiny red balls), and lights and the Star of Bethlehem were added, but the symbolism remained essentially the same. Thus, our modern Christmas tree is actually the medieval Paradise tree, a reminder of the reason why God deemed it important to become man in the first place and a foretaste of the sweet Tree from which our Lord's birth would once again enable us to taste. The lights of the Christmas tree also form a glowing Jesse tree, with each light representing one of Christ's ancestors and the Star representing our Lord Himself.
According to an ancient (and practical) tradition, by Christmas Eve the house is to be thoroughly cleaned, all tasks finished or removed from sight, all borrowed items returned, and no task allowed to be begun that cannot be finished by nightfall.
|Most people associate Christmas feasting with the dinner on Christmas Day, and rightfully so, for as a Vigil Christmas Eve was traditionally a day of abstinence and fasting. Yet there were also delicious Christmas Eve dinnersthat conformed to this|
|restraint (see Foods). Afterwards, the family would gather around the newly decorated Christmas tree, reciting Vespers or praying and singing hymns to the infant Jesus now in the crib(the figurine had been conspicuously absent during Advent). In some countries, it was at this time that gifts were exchanged.|
Being German and native American our tradition's were a little different.
The tree went up but was decorated while we slept Christmas Eve with tons of cookies candies, nuts and treats of all sorts.
Tied Oranges and sugar plums were also set about on trays for Christmas morning.
I don't remember getting toys until after my grand and great grands had passed away.
The full 12 days of Christmas