Sunday, January 06, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve (again!)

Tomorrow is Christmas! At least, it is to those who measure such things by the old Julian Calendar - primarily the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox and Armenian churches.

By tradition, we leave our Christmas decorations up until "Russian Christmas" has come and gone, and we always light everything up fully for the day itself. Though I'm not sure what I mean by "we" these days. I just drove across Nanticoke and noticed that very few houses actually have decorations up or lights lit. My next door neighbors, who light their house up "like a whorehouse" (to use a Norwegian friend's phrase) every year, also tear down their decorations before New Year's Day.

Some days I feel like I may be the last traditionalist left who isn't over 70. This year my church eliminated almost all of the old Polish Christmas Carols in its Midnight Mass - in a parish where there are still many old Polish speakers left. The changes in the music - the current parish organist doesn't even know the old Polish songs that were weekly standards just a few years ago - aren't the only modernizations I've seen that feel like an effort to shunt the elderly off to a side room where they can sit quietly and wait to die. Last year at Easter at the end the sunrise Mass of Resurrection - arguably the holiest day in the entire Cristian calendar - the priest had the Easter Bunny pop out of the Sacristy and walk out past the altar and down the center aisle as the organist played "Here Comes Peter Cottontail."

I watch society spiral off, more concerned about widescreen TVs and having the latest video game systems than about the things that matter. And sometimes I wonder if anyone really knows what things matter. Do I? It seems doubtful. The evidence so far indicates "no".

But tomorrow, according to an ancient calendar no longer in use in most of the world, is Christmas. And tonight, our lights are on.

Merry Christmas Eve, to those who observe it!


anne said...

Merry Christmas Eve to you as well.

We always leave our decorations up for "Greek Christmas" as we call it.

I can symapthize with you on the feeling of losing tradition. Today was the only day over the whole Christmas season that we had the traditional Christmas songs at mass. I didn't even recognize the ones they played on Christmas day.

Tomorrow night we will have a fire in the fireplace and gather around the Christmas tree for the evening. For us it is close of the Christmas season.

Michelle D said...

That's how the people are on my street too, so don't feel bad. There are a few of us that are still lighting our lights. Each year it dwindles a little bit more.

Jennifer said...

At work, whenever we write a story about Russian/Greek/Orthodox Christmas, we write something like "Christmas for people who follow the Julian calendar." I've had a couple of glasses of wine, so I don't remember exactly why we write it that way, except that our Asst. News Director said we should, so it must be correct!

Marc said...

>> I watch society spiral off, more concerned about widescreen TVs and having the latest video game systems than about the things that matter.

To some of us, widescreen TVs ARE the things that matter. Religion is evil.