Well, it’s not exactly Christmas Eve—more like Christmas Eve Eve, which probably has some liturgical significance that my Southern-fried Protestantism doesn’t know or appreciate—but given the way Christmas is falling this year, as well as my own laziness, I thought it’d be worth looking back at this classic Christmas Eve post, with my timeless “Christmas and Its Symbols” post for Flashback Friday tomorrow.
That scheduling also lets me do my beloved “^2” addendum with the titles, adding another layer of Talmudic-esque commentary onto my past scribblings: the ultimate in authorial self-indulgence.
Of course, the season isn’t about my half-baked musings about Christmas, Christmas Eve, or the rest. It’s about the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. As I wrote last year, Christmas Eve seems to perfectly capture the spirit of mystery of that night, “a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder.” Christmas Day is a flurry of activity: opening presents, yelling at parents to wake up, cleaning up piles of wrapping paper. Christmas Eve, especially Christmas Eve night, has always seemed more mystical, more reflective—the true celebration of Christ’s Birth.
It was also the night my Aunt Cheryl—the best one-eyed piano player in Aiken County—used to throw her big, bodacious Christmas Eve bash, featuring her incredible lasagna. So maybe that’s why it fills my heart with a warm, fuzzy feeling (these days, it’d be a welcome dose of heartburn—totally worth it for a thick section of her lasagna).
This year, I think I’ll be spending Christmas Eve with my niece and nephews, waking up at their house Christmas morning for the second year in a row. That’s always a fun way to spend the season. Here’s hoping there’s some Christmas Eve Chinese food thrown into the mix. God Bless General Tso—he was a bloodthirsty dictator, but his chicken is delectable.
With that, here is “TBT: Christmas Eve“:
Here we are—another Christmas Eve. It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.
Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year. In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods. Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family. We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.
Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight! With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:
Christmas Eve is always the most magical, mystical part of Christmas time. Popular depictions of Jesus’ Birth take place, presumably, on Christmas Eve—the angels bursting into the black, silent night above Bethlehem. The whole event is supernatural—the Virgin Birth, the Star guiding the way to the manger, the angels appearing to the shepherds and singing. Tradition has it that even the animals in the manger talked at the moment of Christ’s birth (at exactly midnight, of course). If the rocks can cry out, singing praises to Him, why not some donkeys?
It’s little wonder, then, that the whole evening has a sense of mystery and magic about it. As I wrote in October, the Victorians loved to read ghost stories around Christmas. There is a deep nostalgia—a rich sense of tradition, of reliving the ways and customs of one’s ancestors—on Christmas Eve. The ghosts of those who came before us haunt our Christmas celebrations. They are remembered and honored in our continuance of their traditions. We will be so lucky to enjoy similar remembrance.
Our family’s tradition is to pile over to my parents’ church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The last couple of years they have, thankfully, played it straight—no weird mash-ups of classic Christmas carols (which were good enough already) with some hip Christian songwriter’s lame chorus (stop trying to improve classics!), just the hits.
The last two songs will, invariably, be the best: “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” On the epic “Christ is the Lord” part of the latter, everyone will raise their candles aloft. It is powerful. It even stirs my fat-swollen tear ducts to produce some Christmas Eve dew.
We usually open a gift on Christmas Eve, too. I’d like to say there’s some deep, symbolic reason for this custom—that we’re emulating the Magi bringing their gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ Child—but I think it’s because my mother’s family did it when she was a child. Maybe they had some deeper reason, but it’s probably because it throws the kids a bone, like a teaser trailer for a much-anticipated movie. The adults like it, too.
In a newer tradition, we usually order some Chinese food. The only ghost we’re remembering with this practice is my older brother’s past carnivorous eating habits (he’s some kind of quasi-vegan now… sigh). I’m sure his past self wants to eat the chicken, too.
Here’s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas Eve, and a Merry Christmas.