Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Christmastide: Day 12 (St Telesphorus/St John Neumann)

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming ...”

While drumrolls from these dozen have been dampened by the pandemic, the last item of the index still signifies setting the pace – much like consumer spending this holiday season. As the drumbeat of the U.S. economy, retail sales, savings rates and ecommerce will set the tempo for market growth this holiday season.

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Contrary to popular opinion (including that of people who should know better), the sixth day of January is not the twelfth day of Christmas. The day before, the fifth of January, is the twelfth day of Christmas. The following day, the sixth of January, is the first day of Epiphanytide.

Don't believe me? Get the calendar, do the math, and thank me later.

Another misconception, one growing in recent years among traditional Catholics, is that Christmas literally lasts for forty days, leading up to the Feast of the Presentation, or Candlemas Day. No, Christmas does not last for forty days. Well, not exactly.

Let's back up a minute and go over the distinctions. I'll use big letters so no one misses anything. (Whatever I can do to help.)

The TEMPORAL CYCLE of the traditional Church year has two sections; CHRISTMAS and EASTER. The CHRISTMAS SECTION has three seasons. The first season is the ADVENT SEASON. The second season is the CHRISTMAS SEASON, which runs from 25 December (the day of the "Christ Mass" itself) to the end of the Octave of the Epiphany on 13 January (the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord). The third season is the EPIPHANY SEASON, which runs from 14 January (the day after the Feast of the Baptism) to the Saturday (or Eve) of Septuagesima (the pre-Lenten season). The number of days varies based upon when the Paschal Sunday falls, based on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. Nevertheless, it is with Septuagesima Sunday that the EASTER SECTION of the temporal cycle begins. (We'll deal with that whole thing later. Probably.)

So, what of the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also known in the West as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ), or Candlemas Day, forty days after Christmas? In his commentaries found in the Saint Andrew Daily Missal, Dom Gaspar refers to it thus:
There is, however, a "satellite feast" of the Christmas Season, the Purification, occurring invariably 40 days after Christmas (Feb. 2), sometimes in the Time After Epiphany, sometimes in the Time after Epiphany [that is, the "Epiphany Season"]. For that reason, it has been placed in the Sanctoral Cycle, although its object brings it into close connexion [sic] with the Christmas section of the Sanctoral Cycle.
Well, that wasn't much help, was it?

Or was it?

How the season of Christmas is calculated varies. In 1969, the reformed Roman calander composed by men with nothing better to do expanded the season by a variable number of days, from Christmas Day itself, up to and including the Sunday after Epiphany or the sixth of January. However, in the 1960 Code of Rubrics that were placed in force before all hell broke loose defines Christmastide as running from First Vespers of Christmas to None (midafternoon prayer) of the fifth of January inclusive. However, it became a custom during the Middle Ages for the forty-day observance of Christmastide. Even to this day, the Christian cultures of western Europe and Latin America still maintains the forty-day observance.

The result would appear to be a distinction between that which is codified as law, and that which falls under the category of customary law, or to put it another way, the folkways of a people of Faith. It is as such, then, that we continue to celebrate the coming of God-With-Us, but not in the same way as in the first twelve days. That is why we have Carnivale in Brazil, Mardi Gras (the weekend and culminating on the Tuesday before the start of Lent) in New Orleans and beyond, and in the Philippines, the Feast of Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January. (More on that last one later as well.)

You're welcome.

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Meanwhile ...

Today, the reformed Roman calendar also honors Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, a native of Bohemia and Redemptorist priest who was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in the mid-19th century, and who was a key figure in spreading the Faith to an ever-expanding United States of America.

In the traditional Roman calendar, Mother Church remembers Pope Saint Telesphorus, elected Bishop of Rome in 126, and martyred ten years later. The tradition of celebrating Mass on Christmas at Midnight, the celebration of Easter on Sundays, the keeping of a seven-week Lent before Easter, and the singing of the Gloria, all are attributed by tradition to his pontificate, even as the historical accuracy of these claims remains in doubt.

Tonight, a season ends, and here at Chez Alexandre, we start the day by taking the ornaments down from the tree, and elsewhere in the house. Tomorrow, a new season begins. Stay tuned ...

See all twelve days in progress at the "xmas12days2020-2021" label.

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