As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"The Oxen" by Thomas Hardy

Old Christmas or Little Christmas (Nollaig Bheag in Irish) is one of the traditional names for January 6.. It is so called because it was, until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the day on which Christmas Day was celebrated.
On Old Christmas Eve, we'd sit 'fore the fire and Mom and Dad and Granny'd tell us about the baby Jesus born in a stable on this night, and they'd say that if we'd go out at midnight we'd see the old elderberry bush blooming in the fence corner right in the show, and that if we peeped in through a chink in our stable and made no racket at all, we'd see the cow and the old mule kneeling down - paying honor to the King of Kings.

All of us would try to stay up until midnight so we could go see the elderberry blossoms, and the bruted kneeling down, but we were all used to going to bed at the edge of dark and we never could keep awake that long. That used to be our Christmas.

It was a good, peaceful kind of time ... Now I guess everybody celebrates the Day this (new) was ... but in the evening of the fifth day of January, I always remember Granny Katty sitting bowed over the fire, singing of the little Babe with dew drops a shining on his cradle.
- Jean Ritchie
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel
"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

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