Sunday, 28 October 2012

Twas The 9 Before Christmas

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? I did some in June- well I was in Hawai'i and have a principle that if you know someone wants something, then buy it when you see it.

But Christmas preparations come earlier each year it seems. Already there are the cards in the shops. At least when I lived in Leicester they waited till Diwali- although it was amusing to see that Woolworth (shows how long ago this was) would have its Diwali tinsel advertised and then suddenly it would be advertised as Christmas tinsel.

I was surprised a couple of yeara back to hear a radio station do a competition for the 12 days of Christmas- starting on 13 December.

Then this time of year brings out the devout followers of Christmasianity, those who if you tell them that you celebrate Christmas as a quiet religious festival wave tinsel at you and shout "Bah! Humbug! Humbug!" because you are not celebrating the Christmas of tinsel and mince pies and EastEnders that they think you should celebrate.

A line I often take is that Christmas is at heart a religious festival- and we can argue whether it was hijacked from a pagan festival or not till the cows come home- and that New Year is the secular festival which we can, of all religions and none, unite around. One year I am going to open my presents on New Year's Day.

On one level, when I get home from church at lunchtime on Christmas Day, Christmas is over. Liturgically, of course, Christmastide runs to Epiphany on 6 January.

Normally there will be the complaints from the Church of England that Christmas is commericalised and that we are ignoring Advent.

At home I have a copy of the 1980 Alternative Service Book, which was authorised for use in the Church of England from 1980 to the end of the 20th century (31 December 2000). There was still a fair bit of controversy about it when I became a Christian in 1990, and I could not follow all these discussions and arguments about "Series 1", "Series 2" and "Series 3".

But where did the ASB start the liturgical year? With the 9th Sunday before Christmas, which in the Common Worship calendar is the Last Sunday after Trinity. And is today.

Interesting that for about 20 years the Church of England bought into the common idea that this time of year is simply the run-up to Christmas.

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