Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck the Boughs...

I notice the Pope has his Christmas tree up.
I am not a liturgical rigourist but I always think decorations for Christmas should go up on Christmas Eve, we might start on the Church a few days beforehand, the house always to wait. In reality this has meant as I have often been too tired to do it on Christmas Eve it has had to wait, err, until Boxing Day.
What do normal people do?


gemoftheocean said...

:-D well, in as much as I can be called "normal" ... We Always set the creche out early. On top of the TV. [Dogs eat stuff under trees. They think the little sheep are just for them.] We always got a real tree, but tended to do it late. i.e the last week before Christmas, so it would still be reasonably fresh until early Jan. (though usually not to Jan. 6, otherwise just begging for a fire hazard.] Sometimes we just didn't get around to it until 3 or 4 days ahead. On one notable occasion, the 1st Christmas after I graduated college I was living in a small apartment near church (the ONLY year I technically lived in bounds!) and my mom and dad were up in Oregon where my dad had had a job, but they'd soon be moving back to San Diego. They finally made it down Dec. 24. I'd waited until they'd gotten there to get a tree. About 8 o'clock Christmas eve. we went down to a lot which had a few scraggly trees left. We went over and the guy deadpanned "looking for something special?" We howled. We got a tree for all of 5 or 10 bucks. It wasn't half bad. Naturally, the scraggly side was to the wall. We put it up, then later went to Midnight Mass. It was one of the nicest Christmases ever. There are a few decorations almost as old as I am. I don't go in for "new stuff" though I have to admit the heavier lights, due to age were gradually replaced with newer fairy lights. [The creche always stayed out until Jan 6th!] Back in the day when more people sent out cards those were always hung up around the house, or on shelves, etc.

carl said...

I'm with you, Father. Christmas should wait til Christmas. Advent is all about waiting, so it is best to wait during this time. One of the good tree solutions I've seen is to put it up during Advent, and decorate it with only plain purple ornaments, and then it can be decked out for Christmas when the time comes. As Catholics we need to exert an effort to do Christmas during Christmastide.

GOR said...

Here in the US, while it sometimes seems that people start decorating around September, most commonly one begins after Thanksgiving - especially for outside decorations.

Here in the Midwest, the weather is a factor in this. If you wait too long, the ground is snow-covered and frozen. We had our first snow here on November 11th and the ground is still snow-covered...

As to the Christmas tree and Nativity Scene, custom varies. Some put them up at the same time as the outside decorations - but may not light them until closer to Dec. 25th. However, for us Catholics this should have been preceded by the Advent Wreath and the progressive lighting of the four candles.

My beef is not so much with how early this is done - rather, with how long they are left up. I hate to see trees tossed out on Dec. 26th. In my house all decorations stay up until the Epiphany - observing the Twelve Days of Christmas. While I know the Franciscan tradition is that the Nativity Scene stays up until Candlemas, I haven't quite gone that far - as yet...

Anonymous said...

Well I put my tree and decorations up on what most people call January 6th and take them down on February 15th.

I suspect Fr. Ray that makes you very normal in comparison!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Christmas Eve! Never before..

Anonymous said...

Christmas Eve is just too busy to think about decorating the tree and house! We put the crib up on the first day of Advent, along with the wreath, and the rest about Dec 20th or so and it all stays for the twelve days of Christmas.

I get really annoyed seeing decorations go up on the 1st and down on the 26th, as if the start of the sales is the end of Christmas. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

I have two artificial Christmas trees and they go up in the first part of December. My adult children make a fuss if they can't be around to help. I like to see the trees with the wrapped presents around them. I am filled with expectation and joy that the Christ child will soon be here. On Christmas Eve I leave the lights on overnight, to welcome the Holy Child.

No Advent doesn't start on December 1st anyway, but I don't see why the tree should be different to the wreath. OK, it's festive and Advent is a pentitential season, but it's not the same as Lent and for me the tree represents hope. So many of our decorations remind us of the past and the hope we had then in the future.

If you don't have a tree up in Advent, are you eating mince pies?

torchofthefaith said...

Dear Father

Some folks may claim that we're not normal, but hey!

We usually put the crib up - without the baby Jesus - on Gaudate Sunday and the tree the same day. We also put the wise men on the other side of the room to symbolise the journey!

After the Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass, we process in with the baby on a cushion and place him in the crib.

After Mass on the Epiphany those wise men get hustled across the room and into the crib for the final few hours before the big tidy up!

OK -So now we're really not going to seem normal!!!

This year we've been too busy to make it up to the loft to get the Christmas decs down! Maybe this Thursday we'll do it!

God bless
Alan and Angeline

Anonymous said...

Clare, I'm not eating mince pies cos I don't like them! Now stollen, that I could eat, but we don't have that until Christmas Eve, after dinner...

torch: We put Baby Jesus in the crib first thing on Christmas morning before we do anything else, and we 'process' the Kings around the room until Epiphany when they arrive at the crib too!

Marysia said...

In Poland,at least in our family, there is a lovely tradition, of which I have many fond memories. Christmas Eve is a very long but wonderful day.

Many people still fast on the 24th, which requires strong will if you spend the day cooking, as I do!!

The tree is decorated on Christmas Eve. In the olden days, it was decorated by angels and children were not allowed to see it until the evening. Nowadays, unfortunately, angels have to dress up as parents!

At the first star in the sky (we have never managed this in my family!), the celebration begins. First of all, we share amongst each other blessed waffles, which people send in Christmas cards to share even at a distance, and exchange good wishes. Then, we sit down to the "Vigil" meal (Wigilia), traditionally carp or another fish. After the meal, everybody gathers round the tree to sing carols, while the tree is lit for the FIRST time and presents are found underneath.
This is a most magical moment.

Although I try to keep this
beautiful tradition, my children are very impatient so, in the last few years, I have agreed to decorate the tree on the 4th Sunday of Advent, partly because there is so much to do on the 24th.

Of course, we then go to Midnight Mass. Sadly, "Midnight" Mass has become a 10.30 Mass in our Parish, so we will have to go to a different church.

In Poland trees are then kept until Candlemas.

Anonymous said...

A good Bavarian like the Holy Father obviously likes a Christmas tree. Every Advent I resist the attempts of my wife, hailing from Germany, to set it up early, but usually I do it on the Sunday before Christmas.

nickbris said...

Sunday before would be perfect,just after the Polish Mass so there will be many willing hands.

PeterHWright said...

I'm not going to say "Bah, humbug !" but I don't like any festivities during the holy season of Advent. (And I loathe all forms of Christmas jollity at any time.)

However, I'm all for true rejoicing at the proper time and in the proper way.

Festive food ? Definitely. Especially if it's roast goose.

Festive drink ? Most definitley. Especially good wine.

Mulled ale, mince pies, a yule log ? Most certainly, all those things.

A crib ? Yes, from Christmas Eve to Candlemas. I don't understand the idea of putting away the crib during Epiphanytide. I'd have thought Epiphany is as great a Feast as Christmas, if not greater.

A Christmas tree ? Yes, but not before Christmas Eve and take it down on Septuagesima.

Anonymous said...

I used to do it your way; up on Christmas Eve, down as midnight approaches on 12th night (the 12th night party guests have to help take all the decorations down).

And a little tip - because everyone puts their trees up early, it is very difficult to buy a decent one on Christmas Eve. But the seller one year told me that they were all cut at the same time, early in December, so buy it early and keep it outside in a busket of water until needed.

But with young children it is difficult to wait, so it will probably go up this weekend once the school holidays start.

And Peter Wright - you should have eaten your goose back at Michelmas.

PeterHWright said...


I wondered if anyone would mention the Michaelmas goose ! But if I were observing that tradition, I'd have a Michaelmas bannock, as well.


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