Sunday, December 30, 2007

Church Seasons

One of the things I've liked about Christmas this year is the fact it's over.

I don't mean that I didn't enjoy it; I did. But for too many years of my life, we've been following the Church Year which carries on calling it "Christmas" into January, and only starts Christmas at Christmas Day.

To my mind, this is one case where the world quite clearly has it more right than the Church. Jewish festivals are often week-long things, but there's always a big thing on the final day - there's still some dramatic tension to build up to and some energy to keep it going. Periods of celebration should end with a big do. But Christmas in the Church year doesn't work like that, unless you make Epiphany much bigger than I've ever seen it done in the West. (I think that's what the Orthodox do, but the Western way makes more sense of the significance of the festivals). It just seemed to peter out and singing carols into January just seemed wrong. Spreading forwards is natural because of anticipation and stuff (though I tend to limit it by not thinking about Christmas stuff until after my birthday at the start of December).

And yes, in the Church calendar, it's Advent right up until Christmas, which is about thinking about Jesus' coming as judge. And it's a real shame that the Church year is so messed up that Advent naturally gets eaten by anticipation for Christmas. But it's the fault of the church calendar.

The season of Christmas should end at Christmas, or at New Year at the latest (but then only if you make a big thing of New Year).


Anonymous said...

In Spain I believe it is traditional to give gifts on Three Kings Day (January 6th) which is great 'cos you get to buy your gifts in the sales!

Anonymous said...

How about Epiphany?? Are you one of those who thinks we should go on confusing the Biblical narrative by not pointing out that the Magi/astronomers didn't pitch up to see Jesus until well after the birth?

John said...

Um - what about Epiphany?

My point above is that either we make Epiphany much bigger than it is, or we let Christmas spread forwards and not into the New Year.

However, given the strong linking of secular and church culture around Christmas, it would probably need Epiphany to be a public holiday and so on to get it big enough to work as an end to the season.