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Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

12th Night – Epiphany

It was 12th night on Sunday, so the Christmas tree finally came down, the decorations got tidied away into their box and the Christmas Cards collected up.    We have had a very busy Christmas with relatives staying.

Our local church held a midnight service this year, and candlelight and incense were promised, so we went along.    The candlelight lasted only for Once in Royal, and we had to put them out after that.   Incense was used, but it was fairly minimal.   It was a good effort though, although the 1982 Liturgy really grates.

So it was a pleasure to get along to Evensong at Old St Pauls  at Epiphany.   It was a stunningly beautiful service, by candlelight throughout its 60 minutes.   We started with ceremony of Lucernarium when we all lit our candles, and this was followed by Solemn Evensong and Benediction.     The music was really well sung, and there was a massive amount of incense used during the Magnificat.   The service included time for silence  and thought – just what was needed after a busy Christmas season.

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It always amazes me how actors can keep Christmas shows fresh after Christmas, and more especially, after New Year.   Jack and the Beanstalk at Dundee Rep was still in pretty good shape on the 3rd January, and we really enjoyed the show.

It is great fun to see actors who perform grown-up (sometimes very grown-up) plays the rest of the year appearing as fairy-tale characters.   The theatre put serious resources into creating the show, with impressive sets, and original music specially commissioned – and played live.    The audience of children and rather bigger children went home very happy.

And I really can’t let this performance go without mentioning the family in front of us who arrived with a big Tesco bag of food.     They picked a quiet moment in the first half to rummage about noisily for goodies.     In the interval, china plates and cake were produced.   The show only ran for roughly 50 minutes – interval – 50 minutes ….. so why?      I can understand big interval meals for Wagner Operas, where you get big intervals to eat them, but cannot get this at all.   

And after years of looking for somewhere good to eat in Dundee, we found a delightful restaurant called Andre’s where the food was delicious and reasonably priced.

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Christmas is now officially over:   the tree, holly and cards came down on the 6th January.     The tree only went up on the 22nd December as Christmas Day is the start of a 12 day festival, not the end of it.  

To mark the end, we went to a candlelit service on Sunday evening which was readings and carols for Epiphany.    The music was excellent, and the readings mostly interesting, but I really enjoyed the silences and time to think.    It was the antidote to the service we went to on Christmas morning.

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Christmas starts too early

Christmas starts far too early.   

It is the commercial pressure to get presents bought, decorations looked out, food planned for, cards ordered and written.    And so it goes on:  we all get sucked in a bit too soon for our liking.   Christmas charity catalogues that arrive in July/August are the worst offenders.

I have a birthday in early December, and simply refuse to think about Christmas much before then (“lucky you!” , says my wife), although the overseas cards need to get written and posted before my birthday.

Christmas is a religious festival, and for me these days, it only becomes properly meaningful if I can get to Advent services.    After Lent, Advent is perhaps the next most solemn time of year for the church.   The church I go to  when I can takes it very seriously, and allows time for reflection and thinking about Christmas to come.   There is also some wonderful Advent music that only gets sung at this time of year.     The four Sundays in Advent each have a different meaning and focus.    Christmas without Advent is like Easter without Lent.   If you are going to church on Christmas Day it is worth at least trying to make the Advent journey.

If I had my way, the christmas tree and decorations would go up on the 24th December.     This is not practical – have you tried buying spare tree bulbs on Christmas Eve?    But it will all happen “in the final few days”.       

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