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Vol. 14, No 12 ISSN - 1499-8599 (E-dition) / ISSN - 1499-8602 (CD-ROM) DECEMBER 2009 $4.95(US)

From The ‘X’ Zone Radio & TV, The ‘X’ Chronicles Newspaper XZBN & REL-MAR

A Rob McConnell's Christmas Well here we are at my favourite time of the year, the Christmas Holidays. There’s something very special about Christmas. People are walking about with a spring in their step, and being much friendlier then they are throughout the rest fo the year. Maybe it's because people stop and think about how lucky they are to have what they have, counting their blessing so to speak or is it because there really is a Christmas Spirit that is able to work it’s way through the commercialism that the Christmas Season has become? Sometimes it seems that commercialism has won the battle of the true meaning of Christmas, but not in the hearts of believers in Christmas World-wide. No more is Christmas about the family gathering, seeing relatives that you haven’t seen throughout the year, or the wonderful Christmas Dinner that you will be having Christmas Day or being thankful for those you love and those who love you. When I was young, Christmas was a time of reflection on the year that had just passed, and the memories of those who were no longer with us. I remember the first Christmas that my


And A Very

From Our Home to Yours

Rob & Laura

Nanny was no longer with us after her battle with cancer, and looking at the place that was hers at the dining room table and missing her so much. I remember all the Christmas traditions that my brother and I looked so forward to... decorating the house, making Christmas chains from colour papers and helping Mom with the addressing of Christmas Cards. One of the biggest was going out with Dad one night in December to the Christmas Tree lot, and bringing the tree home on the top of our old white Pontiac with smiles on our little faces from ear to ear. My Dad, who is an expert at selecting the perfect Christmas Tree, always knew which tree in the out door tree lot, was the perfect tree for our home I can still remember the smell of all those evergreens. Ah yes! Christmas was nearly here. As Christmas Day approached, the Christmas cards arrived from all of mom and dads friends and our family in New Brunswick. We had row, upon row, upon row of Christmas cards, and, sometimes there were so many that the string broke. When Mom was cooking the Christmas turkey, Uncle Stan, who now watches from above, (Continued on Page 2) would come over for the turkey neck, which


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Mom always cooked just right for him. Cooking cookies required the combined skills of Mom, Aunt Alozia, Aunt Barbara and Aunt Georgie. My brother and I were the unofficial cookie testers. The rating of how the cookies tasted was equal to the number of cookies that we could grab without being caught, the consequence of getting caught was getting your fingers tapped, and being sent to your room, ironically with milk and some of those yummy Christmas cookies. Talk abut your win-win situation! One of my all time favourite memories of Christmas was when we lived in the Park Extension area of Montréal. It was Christmas Eve, and my Uncle Peter and his wife Aunt Georgie had come into the city from their home in rural Chambly with cousins Peter and Nadine. I remember that Peter and I were sent to the local variety store, "Belliveau's" which was one block away. The excitement of Christmas was in the air. It was Christmas Eve, and Santa would be making his historic flight in just hours! We both got bundled up in our snow suits, and I remember crossing Wiseman and St. Roch, and hearing the snow crunching beneath our feet it was a perfect Christmas Eve. Santa would have no problems coming down our chimney. I remember looking up at the moon and my cousin Peter telling me that Santa was coming, that he could tell, and it was going to be a good Christmas, and it was! Christmas morning my brother and I work up and after rifling through the Christmas stocking that we always found in our bedrooms, we went down the hall to the living room where the Christmas Tree had been decorated by the angles before Santa's arrival, and we peered into the living room which was inaccessible to us by the glass door that was locked. Trembling with excitement and anticipation at what was under the tree for us, we did our best to be two quiet little boys while Mom and Dad slept in the room across from the living room.... okay, we made enough noise to wake the dead as we yelled to the sleeping world that "Santa Was Here!" Poor Mom and Dad probably had just gone to bed for their "long winter nap". It was many years later with our own children I learned how they must have both felt Christmas morning. However, mom and dad would always give in to Christmas excitement of my brother and I and the door was unlocked and yes... there it was... or were we dreaming?!?!? No! It was true - there it was! Santa had brought us an electric train with all the attachments and accessories! A duel control transformer, electric switches, a mountain, a working oil derrick, a beacon light that rotated (red on one side with green on the other), houses, little people...Wow! I still remember the excitement from that morning so many years ago. It was not long after that we moved to the country where all our Aunts and Uncles lived and Christmas took on a totally different meaning for me. Continued on Page 3

In This Edition of The ‘X’ Chronicles Newspaper
(Print/Online/CD ROM/e-Book Version) DECEMBER 2009 - 44 Pages
A Rob McConnell Christmas.... ...............Pg 01 A Biblical Christmas Story......................Pg 04 Christmas Factoids...................................Pg 05 The Three Wisemen................................Pg 06 A Police Officers Christmas......................Pg 07 Twas the Night After Christmas................Pg 07 Where Was Jesus Born..............................Pg 08 The Twelve Days of Christmas...............Pg 09 More Christmas Factoids..........................Pg 11 The Origins of Christmas.........................Pg 12 What Was The Star of Bethlehem..............Pg 14 The History of Santa Claus.......................Pg 15 Winter Solstice Celebrations....................Pg 16 The Silent Night......................................Pg 17 Christmas Superstitions.............................Pg 18 Who Started The Christmas Card Craze....Pg 18 Christmas Around the World......................Pg 19 The ‘X’ Zone Store Advertisement............Pg 22 The ‘X’ Zone Store Advertisement...........Pg 23 The Real Nativity Story..............................Pg 29 The Little Drummer Boy............................Pg 33 Christmas Traditions..................................Pg 36 Christmas in Canada..................................Pg 39 Merry Christmas To Our Troops...............Pg 41 What Is The Mayan Calendar About? ..Pg 35 Christmas Poems.......................................Pg 43 Christmas Eve............................................Pg 43
The ‘X’ Chronicles is published by REL-MAR McConnell Media Company. The contents of this material are (C) Copyright 1993-2009 by REL-MAR McConnell Media Company and may not be copied or reprinted in whole or in part without the express written consent of the publisher. All opinions, comments or statements of fact expressed by Rob McConnell's guests are strictly their own and are not to be construed as those of The 'X' Zone Radio & TV Show or in any manner endorsed by Rob McConnell, REL-MAR McConnell Media Company, TalkStar Radio Network, its affiliated stations or employees. REL-MAR McConnell Media Company assumes no responsibility for claims made by its advertisers and do not endorse any product and or service mentioned herein. To advertise in The ‘X’ Chronicles, please contact us at (905) 575-5916 or send an email to

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A Rob McConnell Christmas
A Rob McConnell Christmas
Continued from Page 2
It was here that I learned that the true meaning of Christmas is the love that you receive from others and the love that you give them. The love between family is always there, however, I believe that Christmas reminds us of just how much family means to us and keeps the flame of love glowing for those who are no longer with us. Christmas is a reminder that we should count our blessings every day when we wake up for who we are, who we have in our lives, and the love they share with us, and how they have made a positive difference in our lives. I miss those Christmas holidays at home. I miss the smell of mom's Christmas cake, her cookies, and the Christmas feast that she would prepare that one and all enjoyed so very much. I miss opening presents with mom and dad, and my younger brother. And as I sit here writing this story, I miss the younger years with my children who have now all grown up, and look forward to Christmas with my grand children and the entire family as they now come to our home with their family, and the tradition continues. I remember my years on the police force working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and watching the world under my care, wake up, and make their way to church and then to their families for their Christmas dinner, as I was going to be when my shift ended. People would stop us on patrol to wish us a Merry Christmas and thank us for being there for them. I always felt so good after my shift when I had done my best to keep those that I was entrusted with keeping them safe and there no major incidents to report on my patrol log. It is now Laura and the girls who do the Christmas cooking, while, without my partner in crime, my younger brother who still lives in Montreal with his family, I am still the unofficial Christmas cookie tester, and yes, I still get my fingers tapped and I still enjoy being sent to the family room with milk and the cookies that are being cooked in the kitchen. As I reflect over the years, and visions of my past fill my head and heart, I realize how very fortunate I am. My Mom and Dad are still with me, and I call them up as often as I can just to tell them I love them. Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles as well as cousins are now watching from above now including my older Cousin Peter, but he is in great company with Nanny, Grandpa and Grandma McConnell, Uncle Peter and Aunt Georgie, Uncle Stan and Aunt Margaret, their son Cousin Wayne, Uncle Lloyd and his son Cousin Terry, Aunt Joan, Aunt Marion, and Uncle Mack.


To those who are still with us, Mom, Dad, Laura, our children Amy, Carrie, Clint, Stephanie, Ryan and Belinda, to our Grand Children, Jessica, Cassandra, Calvin, Victoria and Brooklyn, my brother Anthony and my niece Cassandra Lee, Aunt Flo, Aunt Bea, Aunt Barbara and Uncle Joe, Cousins Melody, Joseph, Dorothy, Nadine and Stephen and theirs and to anyone who I might have missed, I love you all and thank you for the rich memories and the love and life lesson that you all shared that make up who I am today - thank you. Without knowing it you each have given me a Christmas Gift, a Christmas Memory that money could never buy or replace. So as we will sit at a family Christmas Dinner this December 25th, I know in my heart of hearts that there will be a grand family Christmas Dinner on high and they too will be thinking of us on this very special day of the year. Even though we are learning that the birth of Christ was actually in March, and that reindeer shed their antlers in the winter, the message of Christmas and the way the Christmas Spirit affects us all cannot be denied. My Christmas wish for each and every one who reads this story is that you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and may the Spirit of Christmas fill your heart and touch those you love and call "friend." Just one final thought. Could you just imagine what a wonderful world this would be if we could make every day of the year Christmas Day? From our home to you and yours, Merry Christmas everyone and may each and everyone of you have a loved filled, spiritual, happy and healthy New Year.

Rob, Laura & Family

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The Biblical Christmas Story

1 Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to enrol themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; 5 to enrol himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child. 6 And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. 9 And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: 11 for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising

God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased. 15 And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child. 18 And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them. 21 And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called JESUS, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death,

before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, that they might do concerning him after the custom of the law, 28 then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord, According to thy word, in peace; 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; 32 A light for revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And his father and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning him; 34 and Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which is spoken against; 35 yea and a sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher (she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and she had been a widow even unto fourscore and four years), who departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 And when they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Continued on Page 5

The Biblical Christmas Story
Continued from Page 4
41 And his parents went every year to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up after the custom of the feast; 43 and when they had fulfilled the days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not; 44 but supposing him to be in the company, they went a day's journey; and they sought for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance: 45 and when they found him not, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking for him. 46 And it came to pass, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them, and asking them questions: 47 and all that heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when they saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? knew ye not that I must be in my Father's house? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and he was subject unto them: and his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.[]


Christmas Factoids
Hot cockles" was a popular game at Christmas in medieval times. It was a game in which the other players took turns striking the blindfolded player, who had to guess the name of the person delivering each blow. "Hot cockles" was still a Christmas pastime until the Victorian era. "White Christmas" (1954), starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, was the first movie to be made in Vista Vision, a deep-focus process. "The Nutcracker" is the name for the ballet performed around Christmas time each year. "The Nutcracker Suite" is the title of the music Tchaikovsky wrote. "Wassail" comes from the Old Norse "ves heill"--to be of good health. This evolved into the tradition of visiting neighbors on Christmas Eve and drinking to their health. A Christmas club, a savings account in which a person deposits a fixed amount of money regularly to be used at Christmas for shopping, came about around 1905. A traditional Christmas dinner in early England was the head of a pig prepared with mustard. Keep on the look out for more Factoids!

Follow JoJo through his journey from hell into heaven as he chronicles his way from his own beginning through the most treacherous of times and chaotic existence until he finally finds his "Forever Home" and the "Forever Mom" he so longs for. You'll laugh out loud at some of his antics and you'll cry hard, salty tears when you experience first-hand this tiny little dog's story as told directly from him to you through an extraordinary animal communicator, Dr. Kim Ogden, and his new "Forever Mom". A must-read for all ages as you learn the heartbreak and terror of being abused, abandoned and left alone and finally finding love and peace and safety at the end of the journey. A very hard lesson in loving and caring for pets and animals of all kinds as it comes straight from the victim and shows the world that animals really do have feelings, emotions and longings for love and loyalty. JoJo’s Mom: Sande Donahue, a strong advocate for the care and well-being of animals of all kinds, adopted a tiny Yorkie Poo from the United Yorkie Rescue Organization. His story was heartbreaking and she felt a special connection to him. Through JoJo's ever-thankful eyes, she felt that he was always trying to tell her something. She contacted Dr. Kim Ogden, a nationally renowned animal communicator, and combining what information Donahue already had about JoJo's life and working together with Dr. Kim, they were able to glean an extraordinary story as told through the viewpoint of JoJo and his cohorts.

Book is available through all retail outlets or you can order at

The Three Wise Men, The Magi

The Three Wise Men

Early Christian legends tell of twelve wise men living in the East. Their special treasure was a scroll written by Seth, the son of Adam. On this scroll was written prophecies concerning the Messiah of the Jews and the star which would appear at His birth. This group of wise men devoted themselves to watching for the Messiah's star. From generation to generation, every month, these twelve wise men would ascend into a mountain cave and spend three days purifying themselves in its fountains, searching for the star, and praying to be led to the Messiah. As each man died, his son or other close relative took his place. (According to some, when these men were not being wise men, they were simple farmers and only went up on the mountain for a few days each year after the corn was threshed.) About the year 6 B.C., the long awaited star appeared. It shone brightly in the shape of a beautiful boy child with a cross glowing behind him. The star-child announced, "The King of the Jews is born in Judea. Go quickly to worship him." Some say the Christ-Star miraculously enabled the wise men to reach Jerusalem in 12 or 13 days without stopping for food or rest. The journey seemed to last only a day! Others say the journey took about two years during which the Christ-Star taught them the Gospel of Peace and replenished their supplies of food and water so they had no need to stop on the way to Jerusalem. This legend was so popular that Chrysostom included it in his commentaries. A later legend states that a young shepherdess named Madelon met the wise men journeying to Bethlehem and wept because she had no suitable gift to give a king. Catching the sweet aroma of a lily, Madelon looked up from her tears and found an angel standing before her with a wand made of lilies. As soon as she shared the cause of her sorrow with the angel, it waved its wand, causing the road to Bethlehem to be lined with white Christmas roses. Madelon gathered a bouquet of these flowers as she ran to catch up with the wise men. In Bethlehem, she presented her roses to the Christ Child and His touch caused them to glow with a pink tinge. In exchange for their expensive gifts, Mary gave the wise men some of the swaddling clothes in which Jesus had been wrapped. She also gave them a little box with a stone in it. The stone was supposed to remind them that their faith ought to be as strong as a rock. Mary must've neglected to tell them that because, thinking this stone was worthless baggage, the wise men tossed it into a well. Whereupon fire from heaven filled the well. The amazed wise men carried the fire back to their own country and built a magnificent cathedral around it so that the people could worship it. Later, they were baptized and, giving all their possessions to the poor, they went about living a life of poverty and preaching the Gospel of Peace until their martyrdom in India. Although it is common to see images of the wise men worshiping Jesus in the manger, two scripture passages make it seem more likely that the Child was a toddler living in a rented house in Bethlehem at the time of the wise

men's visit. According to Matthew 2:11, the wise men came "into the house" and saw "the young Child with Mary His mother." And in Matthew 2:16, it is written that Herod put to death all the male children who were "two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men." The star which the wise men followed appeared in fulfillment of the prophecy of Balaam: "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel..." (Num 24:17). The most likely scientific explanation for the Christmas star is that a triple planetary conjunction occurred in the House of the Hebrews (Pisces) on February 6, 6 B.C. and appeared to be a temporary new star. But no scientific explanation for the star's appearance is necessary. At various times, Christians have believed this star was an angel, the Christ Child, the Holy Spirit, or even a temporary star created only for this mission and then removed from creation. The Greek word interpreted as "wise men" is "Magoi." It has several possible meanings. One is "deceiver." They were magoi because they deceived Herod by returning to their homes by a different route rather than betraying the Child to him. Another meaning for Magoi is magicians or sorcerers. The "science" of the Medes, Persians, and other Gentile nations of that time included astrology, divination, and enchantment. Chrysostom speculates that Christ chose to reveal His birth to such men in order to give future sinners the hope of divine welcome and forgiveness. (Astrology, sorcery, and divination are forbidden in the Bible. The LORD warns that unavoidable and unpredictable disasters will fall upon those who rely on such practices (Deut 18:12-15; 18:18; Is 47:11-24). "Magoi" can also refer to those who interpret dreams and offer wise council. Daniel was called the chief of Nebuchadnezzar's magicians because he interpreted the dream messages God sent to this king (Dan 2; 4). By the 6th century, the wise men were referred to as kings in the popular imagination. This assumption is linked to such prophecies as: "The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Is 60:3);

"Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship.." (Is 49:7); and "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts" (Ps 72:10). The number of kings varied - usually being two, four, or twelve. Eventually, the number three was settled upon because of the three gifts they bore and the twelve wise men became known as the "Three Kings of the Orient" (Mt. 2:11). They are usually referred to as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. Furthermore, some people believe each of the wise men came from one of the three continents that were known of at the time of Christ's birth. Caspar (a.k.a. Gasper) is alternatively portrayed as the oldest and the youngest of the wise men. He is believed to have come from Europe or Tarsus bearing the gift of myrrh. Myrrh is the fragrant gum of certain plants which grew in Arabia and India. It was imported by the Israelites for use in expensive perfumes and incense (Ps 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Esth 2:12; Ex 30:23). It also had medicinal uses. Because it was believed to strengthen a child and get rid of worms, the gift of myrrh signifies Christ's mortality, and His roles of the Suffering Savior and the Great Physician. It both a Christmas and a Passion symbol. At Golgotha, before He was crucified, Jesus was offered "wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it" (Mk 15:23). This drink was believed to lessen the pains of crucifixion. Myrrh was also used in the burial practices of the Jews. Nicodemus supplied a mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Christ's body when it was placed in the tomb (Jn 19:39-40; Mk 15:23). The wise men are said to have received the gifts of truth and humility in exchange for their myrrh. Melchior (a.k.a. "the white one") came from Asia or Arabia. He is usually portrayed as an old man. His gift of gold is believed to have financed the Holy Family's flight into Egypt. It represents the immortality, purity, divinity, and kingship of Jesus Christ and His titles of the Light of the World, the Morning Star, and the Dayspring. Gold was used in both the temple worship (Ex 25:11; 28:2-30; 1 Ki 6:14-35) and in the worship of idols (Ex 32:2-4; 1 Ki 12-28). The wise men received spiritual wealth and the gift of Charity for their gold. (Continued on Page 7)

The Three Wise Men
The Three Wise Men, The Magi
Continued from Page 6
Balthasar came from Ethiopia or Saba. He is often portrayed as a black man of about forty years of age. He brought the gift of frankincense. Frankincense is the dried resin of Boswellia trees which, at the time of Christ, grew in Arabia, India, and Ethiopia. It was used in perfumes (Song 3:6; 4:6) and incense for the temple worship (Ex 30:9, 34-38; Lev 2:1-12; 6:14-28; 24:7). Because incense represents the prayers of the faithful rising towards Heaven, the gift of frankincense symbolizes sacrifice, Christ's divine nature, and His titles of High Priest and Son of God. The wise men were given the gift of Faith for their frankincense. The gifts of the wise men were also thought to represent the three items contained in the Ark of the Covenant. Gold symbolized the manna. Frankincense represented the tablets of the Ten Commandments. And myrrh was emblematic of the rod of Aaron. The story of the wise men may be found in Matthew 2:1-16. Their visit is commemorated on the feast of the Epiphany (Twelfth Night or January 6). On January 6th, four great events in the life of Christ are celebrated - the visit of the Magi (Epiphany); Christ's baptism in the river Jordan by John (Theophany); the miracle at Cana where Jesus changed water into wine (Bethany); and the feeding of the 5000 men along with their wives and children with five loaves of bread (Phagiphany). At one time Epiphany was celebrated in much the same way as Christmas is now. Even today, in some countries, the wise men or their camels bear Christmas gifts for the children each year. In Czechoslovakia, the initials of the magi's names are written over the entranceways of houses to celebrate Epiphany. Today, the bodies of the magi are in the Cologne Cathedral where they are venerated as saints and called the "Three Kings of Cologne." Their feast day is July 23. They have become the patron saints of travelers. Their names have been engraved on rings to prevent cramps and objects have been touched to their skulls and worn to prevent accidents.[]

'Twas the Night After Christmas
By Jeff Foxworthy

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the streets, not a person was stirring, 'cept an officer on the beat. As he quietly patrolled the town with great care, children and parents slept peacefully there. The officer was clad in his blues and his vest, gun on his hip, always looking his best. He'd just pulled aside for a quick bite to eat, When all of a sudden, out on the street, A bright light appeared from out of nowhere, He shielded his eyes from the brilliant glare. ' Twas an angel of the Lord at the squad's rear, He smiled and spoke, "Dear Officer, don't fear." "I've been sent by God with a message for you who faithfully serve while wearing the blue. He wants you to know He loves you all, He's pleased with the way you've answered His call. "To protect and serve others, so selfless you've been, Your bravery and kindness have known no end. Even in tragedy, when nights became long, You've helped countless strangers by being strong. "God sees your heart, the joy and the pain, He knows the profession can often bring strain. So he sent me here to let you know, That as you patrol, He goes where you go. "As you protect others, your Father protects you, His angels go with you, His Spirit does, too. No bullet too fast, no bad guy too strong, I'm sent to make sure that your life will be long. "So fear not the night, and fear not the day, fear not the threats that might come your way. I'm sent to accompany you on your beat, There's not one moment you're alone on the street." The officer sat stunned by the love of His God, He bowed his head, with a tear gave a nod.

As the officer said thank you, the angel took flight, "God's got your back, carry on, and goodnight."

'Twas the night after Christmas and all through the trailer, the beer had gone flat and the pizza was staler. The tube socks hung empty, no candies or toys and I was camped out on my old Lay-Z-Boy.
The kids they weren't talking to me or my wife, the worst Christmas they said they had had in their lives. My wife couldn't argue and neither could I, so I watched TV and my wife, she just cried. When out in the yard the dog started barkin', I stood up and looked and I saw Sheriff Larkin. He yelled, "Roy I am sworn to uphold the laws and I got a complaint here from a feller named Claus." I said, "Claus, I don't know nobody named Claus, and you ain't taking me in without probable cause." Then the Sheriff he said, "The man was shot at last night." I said, "That might have been me, just what's he look like." The Sheriff replied, "Well he's a jolly old feller, with a big beer gut belly, that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly. He sports a long beard, and a nose like a cherry." I said, "Sheriff that sounds like my wife's sister Sherri." "It's no time for jokes Roy" the Sheriff he said. "The man I'm describing in dressed all in red. I'm here for the truth now, it's time to come clean. Tell me what you've done, tell me what you've seen." Well I started to lie then I thought what the hell, it wouldn't have been the first time that I've spent New Years in jail. I said, "Sheriff it happened last night about ten, and I thought that my wife had been drinking again." When she walked in from work she was as white as a ghost. I thought maybe she had seen one of them UFO's. But she said that a bunch of deer had just flown over her head, and stopped on the roof of our good neighbour Red. Well I ran outside to look and the sight made me shudder, a freezer full of venison standing right on Red's gutter. Well my hands were a shakin' as I grabbed my gun, when outta Red's chimney this feller did run. And slung on his back was this bag over flowin'. I thought he stolen Red's stuff while old Red was out bowling'. So I yelled, "Drop fat boy, hands in the air!" But he went about his business like he hadn't a care. So I popped a warning shot over his head. Well he dropped that bag and he jumped in that sled. And as he flew off I heard him extort, "That's assault with intent Roy, I'll see ya in court."



Where Was Jesus Born?
Matthew. It has people in a crowd rejecting Jesus as the Messiah because the Messiah was expected to come from Bethlehem in Judea, whereas Jesus was known to come from Galilee. But both are compatible with Luke's account, assuming that Joseph and Mary returned quickly from Bethlehem in Judea to Nazareth. * There are numerous references in New Testament that identify Jesus as coming from Nazareth. The early Christians were called "Nazarenes." Jesus was called "Jesus of Nazareth" or "Jesus the Nazarene" or "Jesus the Nazorean" - and never "Jesus of Bethlehem." Perhaps the most important reason to suspect the accuracy of Matthew and Luke is that Bethlehem in Judea did not exist as a functioning town between 7 and 4 BCE when Jesus is believed to have been born. Archaeological studies of the town have turned up a great deal of ancient Iron Age material from 1200 to 550 BCE and material from the sixth century CE, but nothing from the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE. According to Aviram Oshiri, this included the "...Church of the Nativity and associated Byzantine and medieval buildings. But there is a complete absence of information for antiquities from the Herodian period--that is, from the time around the birth of Jesus." So, it appears that Bethlehem was deserted at the time that Jesus was born. As usual, there is a division within Christianity along conservative/liberal lines: * Conservative Christians usually believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. Since the Gospels of Matthew and Luke both refer to Bethlehem in Judea, then that must have been Jesus' place of birth. It is confirmed by the passage in Micah 5:2 which implied that the Messiah would be born there. * Some liberal Christians are convinced by the lack of archaeological evidence in Bethlehem, Judea and the presence of archaeological evidence in Bethlehem, Galilee that he was probably born in the Galilee. Further, according to theologians Don Cuppitt and Peter Armstrong, "...our first principle of historical criticism must be: be wary of any details in the gospels which have close parallels in the Old Testament."Their reasoning was that Christians in the first century CE diligently searched the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) for references for the coming Messiah. They would have found the reference to Bethlehem, Judea, in Micah 5:3 and assumed that Jesus must have been born there. So, the authors of Matthew and Luke would have followed this tradition. bread,' a common name for settlements with mills capable of producing fine flour, rather than the course grade most Israelites used for their daily needs. In 1975, amid the musty, damp and badly lit back shelves of the University Library in Cambridge, I first learned of a Galilean Bethlehem, near Nazareth, from an obscure study of the Talmud published during the nineteenth century. I was surprised by the dearth of discussion of this place in New Testament studies as the possible site of Jesus' birth, especially since a northern Bethlehem is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Joshua 19:15)....Now, however, archeological excavations show that Bethlehem in Galilee is a first-century site just seven miles [12 km] from Nazareth, so my former reserve can be put aside. There is good reason to surmise that the Bethlehem to which Matthew refers was in Galilee." Aviram Oshiri writes: "I had never before questioned the assumption that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. But in the early 1990s, as an archaeologist working for the IAA, I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in the Galilee. When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in the south. Intrigued, I researched the archaeological evidence for Bethlehem in Judea at the time of Jesus and found nothing. This was very surprising, as Herodian remains should be the first thing one should find. What was even more surprising is what archaeologists had already uncovered and what I was to discover over the next 11 years of excavation at the small rural site--Bethlehem of Galilee." Excavations between 1992 and 2003 have uncovered the remains of a large church and monastery built circa 500 CE. Oshri said: "There is no doubt in my mind that these are impressive and important evidence of a strong Christian community established in Bethlehem a short time after Jesus' death." He is certain that the structures are Christian because of the oil lamps with crosses, baptismal font, bronze cross, and pig bones found on the site. He expects that recognition of Bethlehem in Galilee as the birth place of Jesus may take a long time. He said: "Business interests are too important. After all this time, the churches do not have a strong interest in changing the nativity story." He is probably right. With the fabulous success of The Da Vinci Code, and the newly preserved and translated Gospel of Judas, and the rising interest in Gnosticism -- one of the three main divisions within the early Christian movement - Christians are probably not in a mood to relocate Jesus' birth from its traditional location. It has been a settled issue for over a millennium and a half. [] MISSED AN EPISODE OF THE ‘X’ ZONE? VISIT

Christian tradition states that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea (now Palestine). This is about six miles, ten kilometers, south of Jerusalem "on the east side of the 'Patriarch's Highway' that ran along the ridge between Shechem and Hebron:" 1 The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was built by Constantine the Great, circa 330 CE. It is believed by many Christians and Muslims to have been built over the location of Jesus' birth. The exact spot of Jesus' birth is identified by a hole in a 14 point star in a underground cave beneath the church. However, the location of Christ's birth is not certain. * Matthew 2:1-6 quotes Micah 5:2 as one proof that Jesus was the anticipated Messiah. Micah predicted that out of Bethlehem would "come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel." The picture drawn by Matthew is of an engaged couple who were living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth. * Luke 2:1-7 describes Joseph and Mary as residents of Nazareth in the Galilee. They had to travel the approximately 90 miles (140 km) south from Nazareth in the Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea in order to take part in the Roman census and taxation. Jesus was born while they were in Bethlehem. This version of the Christmas story seems a little strange, for many reasons: - The status of a woman in 1st century Palestine was only slightly above that of a slave. Only Joseph would be required to register with the authorities, because only men paid taxes. The presence of his fiancée or wife would be redundant. Mary would hardly have made the 100 mile trip while 9 months pregnant unless it was absolutely necessary. Joseph would have traveled alone. - Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA), has said: "Basic medical knowledge tells you that a heavily pregnant woman could not ride a donkey that kind of distance without losing her baby." - There is no record of a worldwide census having been made in the last decade BCE. If one had been conducted, it would have been so disruptive that it certainly would have been recorded at the time in Roman documents. A census was taken by Quirinius during 6 CE, but that would have been when Jesus was about ten years of age. Also, it was held in Judea, but not the Galilee where Joseph lived. - It makes absolutely no sense to require Jews and other inhabitants of the Roman Empire to return to their ancestral town for registration. The economy of the Empire would be devastated if everyone had to make such a visit. The transportation facilities would be hopelessly overloaded. Censuses are always taken where people live -- in ancient times and now. * Mark 6:1 contradicts Matthew by identifying Nazareth as Jesus' birthplace as his "hometown." John 7:41-43 also contradicts

An alternate birth location:
A new possibility has been suggested recently. There appears to have been a small hamlet in Galilee that was also called Bethlehem -"Bethlehem HaGalilit" in Hebrew. It was located very close to Nazareth. Bruce Chilton, author of "Rabbi Jesus" comments: "Bethlehem in Hebrew means 'house of

Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
by Dennis Bratcher
The Twelve Days of Christmas is probably the most misunderstood part of the church year among Christians who are not part of liturgical church traditions. Contrary to much popular belief, these are not the twelve days before Christmas, but in most of the Western Church are the twelve days from Christmas until the beginning of Epiphany (January 6th; the 12 days count from December 25th until January 5th). In some traditions, the first day of Christmas begins on the evening of December 25th with the following day considered the First Day of Christmas (December 26th). In these traditions, the twelve days begin December 26 and include Epiphany on January 6. The origin and counting of the Twelve Days is complicated, and is related to differences in calendars, church traditions, and ways to observe this holy day in various cultures (see Christmas). In the Western church, Epiphany is usually celebrated as the time the Wise Men or Magi arrived to present gifts to the young Jesus (Matt. 2:1-12). Traditionally there were three Magi, probably from the fact of three gifts, even though the biblical narrative never says how many Magi came. In some cultures, especially Hispanic and Latin American culture, January 6th is observed as Three Kings Day, or simply the Day of the Kings (Span: la Fiesta de Reyes, el Dia de los Tres Reyes, or el Dia de los Reyes Magos; Dutch: Driekoningendag). Even though December 25th is celebrated as Christmas in these cultures, January 6th is often the day for giving gifts. In some places it is traditional to give Christmas gifts for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Since Eastern Orthodox traditions use a different religious calendar, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th and observe Epiphany or Theophany on January 19th. By the 16th century, some European and Scandinavian cultures had combined the Twelve Days of Christmas with (sometimes pagan) festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year. The Twelfth Night is January 5th, the last day of the Christmas Season before Epiphany (January 6th). In some church traditions, January 5th is considered the eleventh Day of Christmas, while the evening of January 5th is still counted as the Twelfth Night, the beginning of the Twelfth day of Christmas the following day. Twelfth Night often included feasting along with the removal of Christmas decorations. French and English celebrations of Twelfth Night included a King's Cake, remembering the visit of the Three Magi, and ale or wine (a King's Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA). In some cultures, the King's Cake was part of the celebration of the day of Epiphany. The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children with secular origins. However, some have suggested that it is a song of Christian instruction, perhaps dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. They contend that it was a mnemonic device to teach the catechism to youngsters. The "true love" mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the "days" represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn. However, many have questioned the historical accuracy of this origin of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. While some have trying to debunk this as an "urban myth" out of personal agendas, others have tried to deal with this account of the song's origin in the name of historical accuracy (see Snopes on The 12 Days of Christmas). There is little "hard" evidence available either way. Some church historians affirm this account as basically accurate, while others point out apparent historical and logical discrepancies. However, we need to acknowledge that the "evidence" on both sides is mostly in logical deduction and probabilities. Lack of positive evidence does not automatically provide negative evidence. One internet site devoted to debunking hoaxes and legends says that, "there is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that the song 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was created or used as a secret means of preserving tenets of the Catholic faith, or that this claim is anything but a fanciful modern day speculation. . .." What is omitted is that there is no "substantive evidence" that will disprove it either. It is certainly possible, in fact probable, that this view of the song is legendary or anecdotal. Without corroboration and in the absence of "substantive evidence," we probably should not take rigid positions on either side and turn the song into a crusade for personal opinions. That would do more to violate the spirit of Christmas than the song is worth. So, for the sake of historical accuracy, we need to acknowledge the likelihood that the song had secular origins. However, on another level, this should not prevent us from using the song in celebration of Christmas. Many of the symbols of Christianity were not originally religious, including even the present date of Christmas, but were appropriated from contemporary culture by the Christian Faith as vehicles of worship and proclamation. Perhaps, when all is said and done, historical accuracy is not really the point. Perhaps more important is that Christians can celebrate their rich heritage, and God's grace, through one more avenue this Christmas. Now, when they hear what they once thought was only a secular "nonsense song," they will be reminded in one more way of the grace of God working in transforming ways in their lives and in our world. After all, is that not the meaning of Christmas anyway? On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me... A Partridge in a Pear Tree The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on


December 25, the first day of Christmas. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34) On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Two Turtle Doves The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world. On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Three French Hens The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13) On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Four Calling Birds The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ. On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Five Gold Rings The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world. On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Six Geese A-laying The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1). On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Seven Swans A-swimming The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11) (Continued on Page 11) Visit the all new ‘X’ Zone Radio & TV Show Portal at :


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Alien Autopsy Inquest by Philip Mantle
The so-called Alien Autopsy film was released by London businessman Ray Santilli in August of l995. It made newspaper and TV headlines around the world. This film has gone down in UFO history as the most controversial piece of film ever. At the forefront of research into this film from the very beginning was former BUFORA Director of Investigations Philip Mantle. He was the first recognised UFO researcher contacted by Ray Santilli in l993 and he has been attempting to get to the bottom of this controversial film ever since. Now, for the very first time, Philip Mantle brings together 14 years worth of research and investigation into one book; ‘Alien Autopsy Inquest’. This unique 280 page (illustrated) work is published by PublishAmerica and is unique in every sense of the word. There is no other book that is dedicated entirely to the Alien Autopsy film. This book looks at the film from every conceivable angle, interviews and questions the relevant experts from around the world, and presents the facts as we know them. At the end of the book a number of possible scenarios are put forward to possibly explain the nature and origin of this controversial film, but in the end the reader is left to make up their own mind.

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Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Continued from Page 9
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Eight Maids A-milking The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10) On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Nine Ladies Dancing The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22) On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Ten Lords A-leaping The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:117) On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Eleven Pipers Piping The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans. On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me... Twelve Drummers Drumming The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell [the grave]. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) the holy catholic Church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.


star to appear, a signal that the feast can begin. At lavish Christmas feasts in the Middle Ages, swans and peacocks were sometimes served "endored." This meant the flesh was painted with saffron dissolved in melted butter. In addition to their painted flesh, endored birds were served wrapped in their own skin and feathers, which had been removed and set aside prior to roasting. Before settling on the name of Tiny Tim for his character in "A Christmas Carol," three other alliterative names were considered by Charles Dickens. They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam. California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees - 8.6 million in 1998. Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorated the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided have the ends bent to depict a shepherd's crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn't until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes. Charles Dickens' initial choice for Scrooge's statement "Bah Humbug" was "Bah Christmas." Child singer Jimmy Boyd was 12 years and 11 months old when he sang the Christmas favorite, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." The song hit the top of the pop charts. Christmas caroling began as an old English custom called Wassailing - toasting neighbors to a long and healthy life. Christmas Day in the Ukraine can be celebrated on either December 25, in faithful alliance with the Roman Catholic Gregorian calendar, or on January 7, which is the Orthodox or Eastern Rite (Julian calendar), the church holy day. Christmas is a summer holiday in South Africa. Children are fond of the age-old custom of producing pantomimes - for instance, "Babes in the Wood," founded on one of the oldest ballads in the English language. Boxing Day on December 26th, when boxes of food and clothing are given to the poor, is observed as a holiday. Christmas is not widely celebrated in Scotland. Some historians believe that Christmas is downplayed in Scotland because of the influence of the Presbyterian Church (or Kirk), which considered Christmas a "Papist," or Catholic event. As a result, Christmas in Scotland tends to be somber. Christmas presents were known in antiquity among kings and chieftains, especially on the European continent. However, they have been common among ordinary people in Iceland only during the past 100 or so years. Watch for more ‘X’ Mas Factoids!

According to historical accounts, the first Christmas in the Philippines was celebrated 200 years before Ferdinand Magellan discovered the country for the western world, likely between the years 1280 and 1320 AD. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans buy 37.1 million real Christmas trees each year; 25 percent of them are from the nation's 5,000 choose-and-cut farms. After "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original. Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday. This tradition began in 1836. Although many believe the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is not. It is the fifth to tenth busiest day. The Friday and Saturday before Christmas are the two busiest shopping days of the year. American billionaire Ross Perot tried to airlift 28 tons of medicine and Christmas gifts to American POW's in North Vietnam in 1969. America's official national Christmas tree is located in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the "General Grant Tree," is over 300 feet (90 meters) high. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925. An artificial spider and web are often included in the decorations on Ukrainian Christmas trees. A spider web found on Christmas morning is believed to bring good luck. An average household in America will mail out 28 Christmas cards each year and see 28 eight cards return in their place. Animal Crackers are not really crackers, but cookies that were imported to the United States from England in the late 1800s. Barnum's circus-like boxes were designed with a string handle so that they could be hung on a Christmas tree. As early as 1822, the postmaster in Washington, D.C. was worried by the amount of extra mail at Christmas time. His preferred solution to the problem was to limit by law the number of cards a person could send. Even though commercial cards were not available at that time, people were already sending so many home-made cards that sixteen extra postmen had to be hired in the city. At Christmas, Ukrainians prepare a traditional twelve-course meal. A family's youngest child watches through the window for the evening


The Origin of “Xmas”
"xmas." It is as if the term "Xmas" used anywhere in public is part of some diabolical grinchly plot to subvert Christmas. This is implied in other places as well. A 2005 poll on the website, a popular biblical resource site, has this question: "What concerns you the most about how the world is attacking Christmas, a Christian holiday?" The four choices given in order are: 1) Using an "X" to replace Christ’s name in Christmas - i.e. Xmas; 2) Banning manger scenes from public places; 3) Substituting "Happy Holidays" for "Merry Christmas"; 4) Emphasizing Santa Claus over Baby Jesus. Certainly, the question does not imply what the web site itself thinks of the answers. But the fact that this issue can still be included with the other fears that people have about Christmas illustrates a continuing and significant level of misinformation mixed with people’s concerns. And the less than neutral language of the question ("world," "attacking," "Christian") certainly leaves the impression that using "Xmas" is part of some worldly plot to overthrow Christendom. This misunderstanding and fear mongering about the use of "Xmas" is not a new phenomenon. I heard the same kinds of comments in sermons many years ago. It was especially prevalent among those Christians and church leaders who wanted or needed to see the world in negative and threatening terms (see The Jonah Syndrome), or who tended to see everything in society as part of some grand conspiracy of Satan or the inexorable working out of God’s own predetermined plan, without really knowing all the facts or complexities of the situation (see Christians and Urban Legends). I have no doubt that some people write "Xmas" because they are too busy or too lazy to write out the whole word. And no doubt some secular people, who are just as uninformed as Christians, see "Xmas" as a way to avoid writing "Christ." And certainly there are secular and commercial motives in the fact that "XMAS" appears in ads and signs because it can be larger and more attention getting in the same amount of space (more bang for the buck). But those factors do not take away the thoroughly Christian origin of the word "Xmas." In this instance, all of the hype and hysteria over supposedly taking Christ out of Christmas by writing "Xmas" instead of spelling out "Christmas" is both uninformed and misdirected. Abbreviations used as Christian symbols have a long history in the church. The letters of the word "Christ" in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, or various titles for Jesus early became symbols of Christ and Christianity. For example, the first two letters of the word Christ (cristoV, or as it would be written in older manuscripts, CRISTOS) are the Greek letters chi (c or C) and rho (r or R). These letters were used in the early church to create the chi-rho monogram (see Chrismons), a symbol that by the fourth century became part of the official battle standard of the emperor Constantine. Another example is the symbol of the fish, one of the earliest symbols of Christians that has been found scratched on the walls of the catacombs of Rome. It likely originated from using the first letter of several titles of Jesus (Jesus Christ Son of God Savior). When combined these initial letters together spelled the Greek word for fish (icquV, ichthus). The exact origin of the single letter X for Christ cannot be pinpointed with certainty. Some claim that it began in the first century AD along with the other symbols, but evidence is lacking. Others think that it came into widespread use by the thirteenth century along with many other abbreviations and symbols for Christianity and various Christian ideas that were popular in the Middle Ages. However, again, the evidence is sparse. In any case, by the fifteenth century Xmas emerged as a widely used symbol for Christmas. In 1436 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with moveable type. In the early days of printing typesetting was done by hand and was very tedious and expensive. As a result, abbreviations were common. In religious publications, the church began to use the abbreviation C for the word "Christ" to cut down on the cost of the books and pamphlets. From there, the abbreviation moved into general use in newspapers and other publications, and "Xmas" became an accepted way of printing "Christmas" (along with the abbreviations Xian and Xianity). Even Webster’s dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century. So there is no grand scheme to dilute Christianity by promoting the use of Xmas instead of Christmas. It is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season. Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church. In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation "Xmas" should be pronounced "Christmas" just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying "exmas." Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of the Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.[] For all your ‘X’ Mas Shopping Needs

The Origin of "Xmas"
by Dennis Bratcher
Some people seem to get worked up easily about things that are either largely irrelevant or incidental, or that they do not really understand. This seems to be the case with some religious folk when the topic is an aspect of Christianity that is personally important to them. For example, around Christmas each year there are always those who loudly decry the use of the abbreviation "Xmas" as some kind of blasphemy against Christ and Christianity. This concern has been elevated recently with the public debates about manger scenes and the substitution of "holiday" for Christmas in stores and government venues. Among religious folks, the objection to Xmas is usually along the line that people have taken Christ out of Christmas and replaced him with an unknown (since the Greek letter chi, [C,c] which looks like the English letter x, is the symbol for an unknown quantity in mathematics). For example, on the "Voice of Prophecy" web site is an article entitled "You Can’t "X" out Christ." You’ve heard the classic story about the little boy who noticed the huge red-and-green sign spray-painted on a department story: "Happy Xmas." And he wondered aloud about the X. Why was it X-mas? And finally, in a forlorn voice, he asked his dad: "Did they cross Christ out of Christmas, Daddy?" And the father had never thought of it that way before, but finally nodded. "Yes, Son, I guess they did." And it makes you think. Well it certainly does make one think. It makes one think how uninformed or misinformed, and unnecessarily militant with that misinformation, so many Christians are concerning their own Faith. The story illustrates what could have been a marvelous opportunity to teach a child about some of the important symbolism of the Christian Faith. But it was an opportunity lost, in this story at least, because many Christians do not understand their own iconography and symbolism. The results are often battles waged against windmills while far more consequential issues for the Faith are neglected (a modern example of Matt. 23:23). Now, in all honesty, the article on that web site focuses on the secular commercialization of Christmas, something to which most Christians I know would object or at least with which they are uncomfortable (note similar comments by Ken Collins in Christmas Facts [external link]). But the fact that the use of "Xmas" can be associated so easily with crass commercialization rather than locating it within the Christian tradition itself reveals a lack of understanding of heritage and history. The same perspective is obvious in this response to a BBC broadcast on the meaning of Christmas: The time has come to separate the religious festival of Christmas from the trading season of

Dare to Believe - Dare to be Heard With Rob McConnell in The ‘X’ Zone

McArthur and Company



What Was the Star of Bethlehem?
Step 2: Was it really a star? Beyond the timing issue, there’s another consideration: A comet or supernova big enough to attract the wise men’s attention would have been widely noticed by royalty and commoners as well. But King Herod and his advisers seemed not to know or care about the star until the astrologers from the east came to visit. However, if we suppose that the “star” actually referred to the planets, the situation is less problematic. The movements and groupings of planets in the night sky were of exceeding interest to astrologers and were closely tracked around the world. Historical records and modern-day computer simulations indicate that there was a rare series of planetary groupings, also known as conjunctions, during the years 3 B.C. and 2 B.C. Step 3: Retracing the conjunctions The show started on the morning of June 12 in 3 B.C., when Venus could be sighted very close to Saturn in the eastern sky. Then there was a spectacular pairing of Venus and Jupiter on Aug. 12 in the constellation Leo, which ancient astrologers associated with the destiny of the Jews. Between September of 3 B.C. and June of 2 B.C., Jupiter passed by the star Regulus in Leo, reversed itself and passed it again, then turned back and passed the star a third time. This was another remarkable event, since astrologers considered Jupiter the kingly planet and regarded Regulus as the “king star.” The crowning touch came on June 17, when Jupiter seemed to approach so close to Venus that, without binoculars, they would have looked like a single star. The whole sequence of events could have been enough for at least three astrologers to go to Jerusalem and ask Herod: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews, for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.” Step 4: Does it make sense? This doesn’t mean that astrology works. We haven’t ruled out other possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem. And the mere existence of interesting celestial events does nothing to prove that the birth of Jesus was accompanied by a star, that the Magi existed, or even that the Nativity took place as described in the Bible. Matching up the June 17 date with biblical accounts produces a mixed verdict. Biblical scholars can't rule out the possibility that the Nativity occurred during the middle of the year. In fact, there's no reference to December, let alone Dec. 25, in the gospels' stories of the Nativity. "December is an arbitrary date we have accepted, but it doesn't really mean that is when it happened," said Reneke, who is news editor of Australia's Sky and Space magazine. Luke's scriptural account about shepherds being out in their fields would make much more sense if the birth occurred during the Middle East's milder months — say, the April-throughOctober time frame. Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy: Do you hear what I hear? Ringing thru the sky, shepherd boy, Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song High above the tree, |: With a voice as big as the sea. :| Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king: Do you know what I know? In your palace warm, mighty king, Do you know what I know? A Child, a Child Shivers in the cold, |: Let us bring Him silver and gold. :| Said the king to the people ev'rywhere: Listen to what I say! Pray for peace, people ev'rywhere, Listen to what I say! The Child, the Child Sleeping in the night. |: He will bring us goodness and light. :| However, the 2 B.C. date is problematic for scholars who argue that Jesus' birth had to take place before 4 B.C. That date marks the death of Herod the Great, the ruler who sent the Magi on their way to Bethlehem, according to Matthew's gospel. The timing for Herod's death is known with some certainty because it meshes with Josephus' historical account as well as the dates for the reigns of contemporaneous Roman leaders. DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE Christmas Carol Said the night wind to the little lamb: Do you see what I see? 'Way up in the sky, little lamb, Do you see what I see? A star, a star Dancing in the night, |: With a tail as big as a kite. :|

Christmas in June? Stars say maybe
Best candidate for ‘Star of Wonder’ reached climax in 2 B.C.
The Star of Bethlehem is one of the bestknown parts of the Christmas story, celebrated in the gospels as well as a constellation of holiday songs. Was it purely a divine sign, created miraculously to mark Jesus' birth? Can the phenomenon be linked to an actual astronomical event? Astronomers can't answer the first question. However, they can turn the clock back on the night sky's appearance, to come up with some astronomical events that might have been interpreted as a "Star of Wonder" by the ancients. The most likely candidate for the Christmas Star made its most dramatic appearance not on Dec. 25 in the year 1 A.D., but on June 17 in the year 2 B.C. What's more, that event was not the appearance of a single bright star, but a grand conjunction involving the brightest planets and one of the brightest stars in the sky. The "Christmas in June" scenario has been a favorite for more than 20 years, but it got an additional boost when Australian astronomer Dave Reneke ran a sky-mapping software program back more than 2,000 years and confirmed the sequence of observation. "We are not saying this was definitely the Christmas Star, but it is the strongest explanation for it of any I have seen so far," London's Telegraph newspaper quoted Reneke as saying on Tuesday. "There's no other explanation that so closely matches the facts we have from the time." Here's how the Griffith Observatory's John Mosley laid out the evidence in his longaccepted analysis of the Christmas Star story: Step 1: The time frame for Jesus' birth The first thing is to determine the approximate date of Jesus’ birth. Then astronomers can look at the sky phenomena of that period and try to identify the star. It doesn’t work the other way around: Since virtually any year can boast at least one reasonably interesting sky event, the astronomy must follow the history. Let’s assume, as many historians have, that the most likely time frame for the birth of Jesus was in the years before A.D. 1. Let’s also assume that the Star of Bethlehem could be observed by skywatchers elsewhere in the world, and not just by the Magi who followed the star to Jesus' birthplace. The Magi, who are known as “wise men” or “kings” in the Christmas story, were actually priests who relied on astrology. These assumptions would rule out some of the prime suspects in the mystery: comets, brightening stars known as novae, and exploding stars known as supernovae. The Chinese, who did a particularly good job of cataloging astronomical phenomena, recorded no such phenomena during the years in question.

History of Santa Claus
Histry of Santa Claus
Santa Claus hasn't always looked like the jolly old fellow we know today. Like so many other American traditions, he's a product of the great American melting pot - a blend of many different cultures and customs. His earliest ancestors date back to pre-Christian days, when sky-riding gods ruled the earth. The mythological characters Odin, Thor, and Saturn gave us the basis for many of Santa's distinctive characteristics. But the most influential figure in the shaping of today's generous as loving Santa Claus was a real man. St. Nicholas of Myra (now Turkey), a fourth century bishop. As a champion of children and the needy, he was legendary for his kindness and generosity. A TRADITION OF BENEVOLENCE In a well known story illustrating St, Nicholas' benevolence, we find two of the basic principles of the holiday spirit - giving to others and helping the less fortunate - as well as the tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace. According to this legend, there were three Italian maidens whose families had fallen on hard times. Because their father could not afford the dowries necessary for them to marry, he was considering selling one of his daughters into slavery to get dowries for the other two. When the good saint heard of the family's plight, he went to their home late one night and anonymously tossed three bags of gold down the chimney. Miraculously, a bag fell into each of the sisters stockings, were hanging by the fire to dry. His kindhearted gift made it possible for all three sisters to marry. A variation of this story is that as each girl was ready to wed, St. Nicholas came in the middle of the night when no one could see him and tossed a bag of gold through an open window into her stocking. The idea of gifts being delivered through an open window may have begun as a way to explain how Santa enters homes that have no chimney. PATRON SAINT Because of his wisdom and sensitivity, many groups claimed St. Nicholas as their patron saint. Children, orphans, sailors, and even thieves often prayed to the compassionate saint for guidance and protection. Entire countries, including Russia and Greece, also adopted him as their patron saint, as well as students and pawnbrokers. Throughout his life, St. Nicholas tried to help others while inspiring the to imitate his virtues. Legends of his unselfish giving spread all over Northern Europe, and accounts of his heroic deeds blended with regional folklore. Eventually, the image of the stately saint was transformed onto an almost mystical being, one known for rewarding the good and punishing the bad. The date of his death, December 6th, was commemorated with an annual feast, which gradually came to mark the beginning of the medieval Christmas season. On St. Nicholas' Eve, youngsters would set out food for the saint, straw for his horses and schnapps for his attendant. The next morning, obedient children awoke to find their gifts replaced with sweets and toys, found their offering untouched , along with a rod or a bundle of switched. St. Nicholas' Day is still observed in many countries, and gifts are exchanged in honor of the spirit of brotherhood and charity that he embodied. THE MAKING OF SANTA CLAUS After the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, the feasting and veneration of Catholic saints were banned. But people had become accustomed to the annual visit from their gift-giving saint and didn't want to forget the purpose of the holiday. So in some countries, the festivities of St. Nicholas' Day were merged with Christmas celebrations, and although the gift-bearer took on new, nonreligious forms, he still reflected the saints generous spirit. In Germany, he appeared as Weihnachtsmann, in England as Father Christmas, and in France, as Pèrè Noël, who left small gifts in the children's shoes. In the areas where St. Nicholas was still portrayed as the gift-bearer, a host of other characters developed to be his assistants. Two of his most well-known helpers were Knecht Ruprecht and the Belsnickle. Depending on the local tradition, they were either attendants to St. Nicholas or gift-bears themselves, but in all cases, both were fearsome characters, brandishing rods and switches. It was not only their dusty to reward good children but also to reprove children who were naughty and couldn't recite their prayers. Knecht Ruprecht (meaning Servant Rupert) was also by other names such as Black Peter (so called because he delivered the presents down the chimney for St. Nicholas and became blackened with soot). In some places, the images, of Knecht Ruprecht and St. Nicholas merged to form Ru Klaus (meaning Rough Nicholas - so named because of his rugged appearance), Aschen Klaus (meaning Ash Nicholas - because he carried a sack of ashes as well as a bundle of switches), and Pelznickle (meaning Furry Nicholas - referring to his fur clad appearance). Not all of St. Nicholas' companions were frightening. In fact, the Christkindl (meaning Christ Child) was thought to accompany him in many countries. Often portrayed by a fair-haired young girl, this angelic figure was sometimes the gift-bearer too. SANTA IN AMERICA Immigrants to the New World brought along their various beliefs when they crossed the Atlantic. The Scandinavians introduced giftgiving elves, the Germans brought not only their Belsnickle and Chistkindle but also their decorated trees and the Irish contributed the ancient Gaelic custom of placing a lighted candle in the window. In the 1600's, the Dutch presented Sinterklaas (meaning St. Nicholas) to the colonies. In their excitement, many Englishspeaking children uttered the name so quickly that Sinterklaas sounded like Santy Claus. After years of mispronunciation, the name evolved


into Santa Claus. In 1808, American author Washington Irving created a new version of old St. Nick. This one rode over the treetops in a horse drawn wagon "dropping gifts down the chimneys of his favorites." In his satire, Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, Irving described Santa as a jolly Dutchman who smoked a long stemmed clay pipe and wore baggy breeches and a broad brimmed hat. Also, the familiar phrase, "...laying his finger beside his nose...," first appeared in Irving's story. That phrase was used again in 1822 in the now-classic poem by Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," more commonly know as "The Night Before Christmas." His verse gave an Arctic flavor to Santa's image when he substituted eight tiny reindeer and a sleigh for Irving's horse and wagon. It is Moore's description of Santa that we most often think of today: "He had a broad face, and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly." Up to this point, Santa's physical appearance and the color of his suit were open to individual interpretation. Then in 1863, Thomas Nast, a German immigrant, gave us a visual image of the cheerful giver that was to later become widely accepted. When Nast was asked to illustrate Moore's charming verse for a book of children's poems, he gave us a softer, kinder Santa who was still old but appeared less stern than the ecclesiastical St. Nicholas. He dressed his elfin figure in red and endowed him with human characteristics. Most important of all, Nast gave Santa a home at the North Pole. For twentythree years, his annual drawings in Harpers Weekly magazine allowed Americans to peek into the magical world of Santa Claus and set the stage for the shaping of today's merry gentleman. Artist Haddon Sundblom added the final touches to Santa's modern image. Beginning in 1931, his billboard and other advertisements for Coca Cola-Cola featured a portly, grandfatherly Santa with human proportions and a ruddy complexion. Sunblom's exuberant, twinkleeyed Santa firmly fixed the gift-giver's image in the public mind. St. Nicholas' evolution into today's happy, larger-than-life Santa Claus is a wonderful example of the blending of countless beliefs and practices from around the world. This benevolent figure encompasses all the goodness and innocence of childhood. And because goodness is his very essence, in every kindness we do, Santa will always be remembered.[]

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Winter Solstice Celebrations
people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun's path within a few days after the solstice -perhaps by DEC-25. Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th. December celebrations in many faiths and locations - ancient and modern * ANCIENT BRAZIL: Brazilian archeologists have found an assembly of 127 granite blocks arranged equidistant from each other. They apparently form an ancient astronomical observatory. One of the stones marked the position of the sun at the time of the winter solstice and were probably used in religious rituals * ANCIENT EGYPT: The godman/savior Osiris died and was entombed on DEC-21. "At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing" and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers." * ANCIENT GREECE: The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth. * ANCIENT ROME: Saturnalia began as a feast day for Saturn on DEC-17 and of Ops (DEC-19). About 50 BCE, both were later converted into two day celebrations. During the Empire, the festivals were combined to cover a full week: DEC-17 to 23. By the third century CE, there were many religions and spiritual mysteries being followed within the Roman Empire. Many, if not most, celebrated the birth of their god-man near the time of the solstice. Emperor Aurelian (270 to 275 CE) blended a number of Pagan solstice celebrations of the nativity of such godmen/saviors as Appolo, Attis, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Horus, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, and Theseus into a single festival called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun" on DEC-25. At the time, Mithraism and Christianity were fierce competitors. Aurelian had even declared Mithraism the official religion of the Roman Empire in 274 CE. Christianity won out by becoming the new official religion in the 4th century CE. * ATHEISTS: There has been a recent increase in solstice observances by Atheists in the U.S. For example, The American Atheists and local Atheist groups have organized celebrations for 2000-DEC, including the Great North Texas Infidel Bash in Weatherford TX; Winter Solstice bash in Roselle NJ; Winter Solstice Parties in York PA, Boise ID, North Bethesda MD, and Des Moines IA; Winter Solstice Gatherings in Phoenix AZ and Denver CO: a Year End Awards and Review Dinner (YEAR) in San Francisco, CA. * BUDDHISM: On DEC-8, or on the Sunday immediately preceding, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day (a.k.a. Rohatsu). It recalls the day in 596 BCE, when the Buddha achieved enlightenment. He had left his family and possessions behind at the age of 29, and sought the meaning of life -- particularly the reasons for its hardships. He studied under many spiritual teachers without success. Finally, he sat under a pipal tree and vowed that he would stay there until he found what he was seeking. On the morning of the eighth day, he realized that everyone suffers due to ignorance. But ignorance can be overcome through the Eightfold Path that he advocated. This day is generally regarded as the birth day of Buddhism. Being an Eastern tradition, Bodhi Day has none of the associations with the solstice and seasonal changes found in other religious observances at this time of year. However, it does signify the point in time when the Buddha achieved enlightenment and escaped the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth through reincarnation -- themes that are observed in other religions in December. * CHRISTIANITY: Any record of the date of birth of Yeshua of Nazareth (later known as Jesus Christ) has been lost. There is sufficient evidence in the Gospels to indicate that Yeshua was born in the fall, but this seems to have been unknown to early Christians. By the beginning of the 4th century CE, there was intense interest in choosing a day to celebrate Yeshua's birthday. The western church leaders selected DEC-25 because this was already the date recognized throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of various Pagan gods. Since there was no central Christian authority at the time, it took centuries before the tradition was universally accepted: - Eastern churches began to celebrate Christmas after 375 CE. - The church in Jerusalem started in the 7th century. - Ireland started in the 5th century. - Austria, England and Switzerland in the 8th - Slavic lands in the 9th and 10th centuries. Many symbols and practices associated with Christmas are of Pagan origin: holly, ivy, mistletoe, yule log, the giving of gifts, decorated evergreen tree, magical reindeer, etc. Polydor Virgil, an early British Christian, said "Dancing, masques, mummeries, stageplays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them." In Massachusetts, Puritans unsuccessfully tried to ban Christmas entirely during the 17th century, because of its heathenism. The English Parliament abolished Christmas in 1647. Some contemporary Christian faith groups do not celebrate Christmas. Included among these was the Worldwide Church of God (before its recent conversion to Evangelical Christianity) and the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Continued on Page 17)

Winter Solstice celebrations: a.k.a. Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule, the Long Night, etc.
Religious folk worldwide observe many seasonal days of celebration during the month of December. Most are religious holy days, and are linked in some way to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. On that day, due to the earth's tilt on its axis, the daytime hours are at a minimum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a maximum. (In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, when the night time is at a minimum and the daytime is at a maximum. We will assume that the reader lives in the Northern hemisphere for the rest of this article.) People view other religions in various ways, and thus treat the celebrations of other faiths differently: * Some people value the range of December celebrations, because it is evidence of diversity of belief within our common humanity. They respect both their own religious traditions and those of other faiths for their ability to inspire people to lead more ethical lives. Religious diversity is to them a positive influence. * Others reject the importance of all celebrations other than the holy day recognized by their own religion. Some even reject their religion's holy days which are seen to have Pagan origins (e.g. Easter and Christmas). * Some view other religions as being inspired by Satan. Thus the solstice celebrations of other religions are rejected because they are seen to be Satanic in origin. Origins of solstice celebration The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5© tilt of the earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or gyroscope, it points in a fixed direction continuously -- towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime and low in the sky during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. This is called the summer solstice, and is typically on JUN-21 in the Northern Hemisphere -- the first day of summer. "Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere," to cause to stand still. The lowest elevation occurs about DEC-21 and is the winter solstice -- the first day of winter, when the night time hours are maximum. In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The

Winter Solstice Celebrations
Winter Solstice celebrations: a.k.a. Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule, the Long Night, etc.
Continued from Page 16
* DRUIDISM: Druids and Druidesses formed the professional class in ancient Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers, ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves of sacred trees. The solstice is the time of the death of the old sun and the birth of the dark-half of the year. It was called "Alban Arthuan by the ancient Druids. It is the end of month of the Elder Tree and the start of the month of the Birch. The three days before Yule is a magical time. This is the time of the Serpent Days or transformation...The Elder and Birch stand at the entrance to Annwn or Celtic underworld where all life was formed. Like several other myths they guard the entrance to the underworld. This is the time the Sun God journey's thru the underworld to learn the secrets of death and life. And bring out those souls to be reincarnated." A modern-day Druid, Amergin Aryson, has composed a Druidic ritual for the Winter Solstice. * INCA RELIGION: The ancient Incas celebrated a festival if Inti Raymi at the time of the Winter Solstice. Since the Inca Empire was mainly south of the equator, the festival was held in June. It celebrates "the Festival of the Sun where the god of the Sun, Wiracocha, is honored." Ceremonies were banned by the Roman Catholic conquistadores in 1572 century as part of their forced conversions of the Inca people to Christianity. A local group of Quecia Indians in Cusco, Peru revived the festival in 1944. It is now a major festival which begins in Cusco and proceeds to an ancient amphitheater a few miles away. * IRAN: Shabe-Yalda (a.k.a. Shab-e Yaldaa) is celebrated in Iran by followers of many religions. It originated in Zoroastrianism, the state religion which preceded Islam. The name refers to the birthday or rebirth of the sun. People gather at home around a korsee -- a low square table -- all night. They tell stories and read poetry. They eat watermelons, pomegranates and a special dried fruit/nut mix. Bonfires are lit outside. * ISLAM: During the period 1997 to 1999, the first day of the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan occurred in December. The nominal dates were 1997-DEC-31, 1998-DEC-20 and 1999-DEC-9. The actual date for the start of Ramadan depends upon the sighting of the crescent moon, and thus can be delayed by a few days from the nominal date. This is the holiest period in the Islamic year. It honors the lunar month in which the Qura'n was revealed by God to humanity. "It is during this month that Muslims observe the Fast of Ramadan. Lasting for the entire month, Muslims fast during the daylight hours and in the evening eat small meals and visit with friends and family. It is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties." Because Ramadan is part of a lunarbased calendar, it starts about 11 days earlier each year. In the year 2000, the nominal date will be NOV-27. Ramadan is thus not associated with the winter solstice as are other religious celebrations. It is just by coincidence that it has occurred during December in recent years. * JUDAISM: Jews celebrate an 8 day festival of Hanukkah, (a.k.a. Feast of Lights, Festival of lights, Feast of Dedication, Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukah). It recalls the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom. Antiochus, the king of Syria, conquered Judea in the 2nd century BCE. He terminated worship in the Temple and stole the sacred lamp, the menorah, from before the altar. At the time of the solstice, they rededicated the Temple to a Pagan deity. Judah the Maccabee lead a band of rebels, and succeeding in retaking Jerusalem. They restored the temple and lit the menorah. It was exactly three years after the flame had been extinguished -- at the time of the Pagan rite. Although they had found only sufficient consecrated oil to last for 24 hours, the flames burned steadily for eight days. "Today's menorahs have nine branches; the ninth branch is for the shamash, or servant light, which is used to light the other eight candles. People eat potato latkes, exchange gifts, and play dreidel games. And as they gaze at the light of the menorah, they give thanks for the miracle in the Temple long ago." Modern-day Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting one candle for each of the eight days of the festival. Once a minor festival, it has been growing in importance in recent years, perhaps because of the pressure of Christmas. * NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY: The Pueblo tribe observe both the summer and winter solstices. Although the specific details of the rituals differ from pueblo to pueblo, "the rites are built around the sun, the coming new year and the rebirth of vegetation in the spring....Winter solstice rites include...prayerstick making, retreats, altars, emesis and prayers for increase." The Hopi tribe "is dedicated to giving aid and direction to the sun which is ready to 'return' and give strength to budding life." Their ceremony is called "Soyal." It lasts for 20 days and includes "prayerstick making, purification, rituals and a concluding rabbit hunt, feast and blessing..." There are countless stone structures created by Natives in the past to detect the solstices and equinoxes. One was called Calendar One by its modern-day finder. It is in a natural amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in Vermont. From a stone enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can see a number of vertical rocks and natural features in the horizon which formed the edge of the bowl. At the solstices and equinoxes, the sun rises and sets at notches or peaks in the ridge which surrounded the calendar. * NEOPAGANISM: This is a group of religions which are attempted re-creations of ancient Pagan religions. Of these, Wicca is the most common; it is loosely based on ancient


Celtic beliefs and practices. Wiccans recognize eight seasonal days of celebration. Four are minor sabbats and occur at the two solstices and the two equinoxes. The other are major sabbats which happen approximately halfway between an equinox and solstice. The winter solstice sabbat is often called Yule. It is a time for introspection, and planning for the future. Wiccans may celebrate the Sabbat on the evening before the time of the actual solstice, at sunrise on the morning of the solstice, or at the exact time of the astronomical event. Monotheistic religions, like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, tend to view time as linear. It started with creation; the world as we know it will end at some time in the future. Aboriginal and Neopagan religions see time as circular and repetitive, with lunar (monthly) and solar (yearly) cycles. Their "...rituals guarantee the continuity of nature's cycles, which traditional human societies depend on for their sustenance." * NEOLITHIC EUROPE: Many remains of ancient stone structures can be found in Europe dating back many millennia. Some appear to have religious/astronomical purposes; others are burial tombs. These structures were built before writing was developed. One can only speculate on the significance of the winter solstice to the builders. Two examples of passage tombs are: At Newgrange, in Brugh-na-Boyne, County Meath, in eastern Ireland. It is perhaps the most famous of the 250 passage tombs in Ireland. It covers an area of one acre, and has an internal passage that is almost 60 feet (19 m) long. The tomb has been dated at about 3,200 BCE; it is one of the oldest structures in the world -- and the roof still doesn't leak after 5,200 years! Above the entrance way is a stone "roof box" that allows the light from the sun to penetrate to the back of the cairn at sunrise on and near the winter solstice. The horizontal dimension of the box matches the width of the sun as viewed from the back of the passage. In the years since the tomb was constructed by Neolithic farmers, the Earth's tilt on its axis has changed from about 24 to about 23© degrees now. As a result, the sun rises about two solar diameters farther south today. The monument is surrounded by a circle of standing stones that were added later during the Bronze Age. At Maeshowe, (Orkneys, Scotland). It is a chambered cairn built on a leveled area with a surrounding bank and ditch. It has been carbon dated at 2750 BCE. Inside the cairn is a stone structure with a long entry tunnel. The structure is aligned so that sunlight can shine along the entry passage into the interior of the megalith, and illuminate the back of the structure. This happens at sunrise at and near the winter solstice. Starting in the late 1990's, live video and still images have been broadcast to the world via the Internet.

The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (UT): 2010 DEC-21 @ 23:38



The Silent Night
The Silent Night
A true Christmas miracle born from the horror of world war and the unifying music of Christmas
In any conversation about Christmas miracles, someone usually refers to the true story of a Silent Night during 1914 when an unlikely truce between opposing German and British forces demonstrated the true spirit of Christmas in a way unlikely to be forgotten The Beginnings People associate the song Silent Night with the so-called "Christmas Truce" because it's the first song known to have echoed across the war-torn battlefield and also because for that night the rifles went silent. On that Christmas Eve, German soldiers began decorating their trenches and singing the famous song. Inspired, the British soldiers returned carols in English, and one of the most famous Christmas miracles of modern history was born. The Truce By December 24th, soldiers on both sides were discouraged and dispirited, and it's safe to say no one wanted to spend Christmas in a trench, far from family and friends. So it makes sense that both sides were ready for a truce. Once the carols had been sung, soldiers began to shout greetings across the field. Several of the German soldiers spoke English, allowing the sides to communicate freely. Soon, brave soldiers began to visit across the neutral zone in the middle of the field (also known as "No Man's Land"). They exchanged gifts of whatever they had: whiskey, jam, cigars, chocolate and uniform buttons or pieces. One of the more painful but important part of such Christmas miracles is the emotional impact, and the truce allowed both sides to retrieve soldiers whose bodies had fallen in the middle of the field. Prior to now, it had been too dangerous to emerge from the trenches to claim the bodies. Now, soldiers were given the chance to bury the bodies of their fallen brothers. In fact, in some cases German and British soldiers joined together to hold funeral services for their friends, reading verses from the Bible, particularly the 23rd psalm. All Good Things... Unfortunately, Christmas miracles are often all too fleeting. In this case, the war had to resume, and while some soldiers refused to fight, understandably reluctant to resume killing their new found friends, army officials intervened, and by New Year's Day, the truce was over in all areas -- but not in the hearts of those who experienced it. The last surviving veteran of the Christmas truce died in Scotland at the age of 109, but like all Christmas miracles, this one will survive those who experienced it for many years. []

Who Started The Christmas Cards Tradition?

Christmas Superstitions About Trees
Unusual Christmas superstitions about everyone's favorite decoration! The Christmas Tree
It's hard to write too many articles about Christmas superstitions involving your tree -there are literally hundreds of stories, legends, and myths about trees. So no matter how much of a Christmas buff you may be, there might be a few superstitions you have yet to encounter. 1. Spring, Spring, Come Around!

Why We Send Christmas Cards During the Holiday Season
This year while you're preparing all of the Christmas cards that will be going out to friends and family you may take a moment to wonder why you do it and who started it all. After all, it's not like the apostles took it upon themselves to send each other greeting cards to remember the birthday of Jesus. Hey, Hallmark didn't even exist back then! So how did Christmas cards become a part of this Christian holiday? Here's where it all began... Let's Travel Back in Time

Long before anyone set up the first Christmas tree, people brought winter greenery into their homes. The superstition was that if you forgot this custom, spring might forget to return next season! Of course, that's not the only magic of the tree: winter greenery is thought to keep away witches, spirits, and other evil forces. People would actually decorate greenery long before Christmas superstitions came about, but they'd decorate the bushes outside their homes. Why? Because they figured those evil spirits were looking for shelter (I guess they don't like winter, either) and they didn't want them moving into their homes. 2. The Yule Log There are enough Christmas superstitions about the Yule log to fill their own book -- but one of the sweetest says that if you want good luck, you should cut the Yule log from this year's tree and let it cure until next Christmas. Of course, if you let that log go out during the twelve days of Christmas you're ruined: bad luck for the rest of the year. Keep adding wood but make sure a section of the original Yule log keeps burning. 3. Light up your Life The original candles were placed on trees to frighten away the devil and evil spirits long before the tree was called a "Christmas tree." Romans started this tradition, and they took it a step further by attaching pieces of metal so the added reflections would further terrify those evil presences. 4. Apples Galore If you've ever seen apple decorations on a tree, you probably didn't realize they were part of Christmas superstitions. In the eleventh century, before the official "Christmas tree" as we know it, people would decorate trees with apples on Christmas eve to encourage luck and plenty in the coming year. If you love Christmas trees -- and really, who doesn't? -- these Christmas superstitions should help you enjoy your holiday season to its very fullest.[]

Let's go back in time to 1840s Britain. The first postal deliveries were being sent thanks to the brand new “Penny Post” that had been set up. Now that the Penny Post enabled people to send Christmas greetings to one another it became customary to do so. However, many people found it tedious and time consuming to hand write all of their Christmas letters. In 1843, the first Christmas card was commissioned. Christmas Cards Come to America For about 30 years, Americans had to import their Christmas cards from Britain. It wasn't until 1875 that the first Christmas cards would be printed in the United States. And the Christmas cards sent back then really didn't mirror today's popular cards at all. The Christmas cards of yesteryear tended to depict flowers and faeries. It wasn't until later years that Christmas cards took on a “holiday theme”. And the Evolution Continues... What the Penny Post did for Christmas cards back in the mid 1800s, the Internet is doing today. The way we greet one another at Christmas is changing once again. Thanks to the wider acceptance of “e-cards” all it takes is the click of the mouse to send your friends and family Christmas greetings. Who knows what tomorrow brings...


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Christmas Around the World 21
Christmas in Africa
Preparation for Christmas in the Congo begins when some group is designated to prepare the annual Christmas pageant. Christmas day begins with groups of carolers walking to and fro through the village, along the roadway, by the houses of the missionaries, singing the lovely carols known the world around. Often people may be awakened by a group of carolers beginning to converge on the house of worship. They return home to make final preparation as to the clothes one must wear and also as to his offering for the Christmas service. The most important part of their Christmas worship service is the love offering, this is the gift in honor of Jesus. Then at about 8 or 9 o'clock everyone makes their way to the celebration of the birthday of Jesus. Everyone who attends the service goes forward to lay down their gift upon the raised platform near the Communion table. Not one person will attend the service without giving a gift. Now people have Christmas dinners after the service, preparing tables out in front of their home and inviting many of their intimate friends to share. Christmas in South Africa is a summer holiday. In December, the southern summer brings glorious days of sunshine that carry an irresistible invitation to the beaches, the rivers, and the shaded mountain slopes. Then the South African holiday season reaches its height. Schools are closed, and camping is the order of the day. In South Africa there is no snow, but it has many flowers, many beautiful varieties of cultivated and wild flowers being in their full pride. In the cities and towns carolers make their rounds on Christmas Eve. Church services are held on Christmas morning. Christmas Eve celebrations in larger centers include "Carols by Candlelight" and special screen and floor shows. Homes are decorated with pine branches, and all have the decorated Christmas fir in a corner, with presents for the children around. At bedtime on Christmas Eve, children may also hang up their stockings for presents from Father Christmas. Many South Africans have a Christmas dinner in the open-air lunch. For many more, it is the traditional dinner of either turkey, roast beef, mince pies, or suckling pig, yellow rice with raisins, vegetables, and plum pudding, crackers, paper hats, and all. In the afternoon, families go out into the country and usually there are games or bathing in the warm sunshine, and then home in the cool of the evening. Boxing Day is also a proclaimed public holiday usually spent in the open air. It falls on December 26 and is a day of real relaxation. In Ghana, on Africa's west coast, most churches herald the coming of Christmas by decorating the church and homes beginning with the first week in Advent, four weeks before Christmas. This season happens to coincide with the cocoa harvest, so it is a time of wealth. Everyone returns home from wherever they might be such as farms or mines. On the eve of Christmas, children march up and down the streets singing Christmas Carols and shouting "Christ is coming, Christ is coming! He is near!" in their language. In the evening, people flock to churches which have been decorated with Christmas evergreens or palm trees massed with candles. Hymns are sung and Nativity plays are presented. On Christmas Day, children and older people, representing the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem, go from house to house singing. Another church service is held where they dress in their native attire or Western costumes. Later on there is a feast of rice and yam paste called fufu with stew or okra soup, porridge and meats. Families eat together or with close neighbors, and presents are given. On the west coast of Africa, in Liberia, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree, which is decorated with bells. On Christmas morning, people are woken up by carols. Presents such as cotton cloth, soap, sweets, pencils, and books are exchanged. Also in the morning a church service is held in which the Christmas scene is enacted and hymns and carols are sung. Dinner is eaten outdoors with everyone sitting in a circle to share the meal of rice, beef and biscuits. Games are played in the afternoon, and at night fireworks light up the sky. ground or on dry grass and eating meatless food. There were 7 or 12 meals: wine, Rakia , sarmy and so on. There always was a huge round bread where all the cattle, the house and things like that were carved. Bulgarians make Christmas wishes around the fire and eat blood sausage.

Christmas in China
The Christian children of China decorate trees with colorful ornaments. These ornaments are made from paper in the shapes of flowers, chains and lanterns. They also hang muslin stockings hoping that Christmas Old Man will fill them with gifts and treats. The Chinese Christmas trees are called "Trees of Light." Santa Claus is called Dun Che Lao Ren which means "Christmas Old Man.". The non-Christian Chinese call this season the Spring Festival and celebrate with many festivities that include delicious meals and pay respects to their ancestors. The children are the main focus of these celebrations, they receive new clothes and toys, eat delectable food and watch firecrackers displays.

Christmas in Egypt
The Coptic Church is an Orthodox Church and in the Coptic Church Christmas is celebrated on the 7th January. Advent is observed for forty days and during this period people are expected to fast eating no meat, poultry or dairy products. Some people only do this during the last week of Advent. On the Eve of Christmas everyone goes to church wearing a completely new outfit. The Christmas service ends at midnight with the ringing of church bells, then people go home to eat a special Christmas meal known as fata, which consists of bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat. On Christmas morning people in Egypt visit friends and neighbors. They take with them kaik which is a type of shortbread, which they take with them to give to the people they visit and eaten with a drink known as shortbat. Christmas Day is a public holiday for Christians.

Christmas in Bethlehem
In Bethlehem the town where Jesus is said to have been born is the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is ablaze with flags and decorations on every Christmas. On Christmas Eve natives and visitors alike crowd the church's doorways and stand on the roof to watch for the dramatic annual procession. Galloping horsemen and police mounted on Arabian horses lead the parade. They are followed by solitary horseman carrying a cross and sitting astride a coal-black steed, then comes the churchmen and government officials. The procession solemnly enters the doors and places an ancient effigy of the Holy Child in the Church. Deep winding stairs lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus. Christian homes in Bethlehem are marked by a cross painted over the door and each home displays a homemade manger scene. A star is set up on a pole in the village square.

Christmas in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Christmas known as Ganna is celebrated on January 7th. This celebration takes place in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock and also in modern churches that are designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys sit separately from girls and women. Also the choir sings from the outside circle. People receive candles as they enter the church. After lighting the candles everyone walks around the church three times, then stands throughout the mass, which may last up to three hours. Food served at Christmas usually includes injera, a sourdough pancake like bread. Injera serves as both plate and fork. Doro wat, a spicy chicken stew might be the main meal. A piece of the injera is used to scoop up the wat. Baskets decorated beautifully are used to serve the wat. (Continued on Page 24)

Christmas in Bulgaria
Christmas Eve is as important as Christmas day in Bulgaria. A special diner, consisting of at least twelve dishes is prepared. All of them are without meat and each of them represents a separate month of the year. The dishes consist of beans, different kinds of nuts, dried plums, cakes, and the traditional Banitza. On this day the whole family gathers, eat on straw and get off the table in the same time. In the past Christmas was celebrated differently. There were boys and non-married young men who were visiting the houses, singing songs for wealth and health for the hosts. They were rewarded with money, food and so on. They were bringing long sticks to put kravai which are round breads with holes in them. They were called Rkoledaris. In the houses the families gathered sitting on the

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24 Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
Continued from Page 21
Christmas in Ethiopia Gift giving is a very small part of Christmas celebration. Children usually receive very simple presents such as clothing. In Ethiopia Christmas day is January 7, so on Christmas Eve the city is crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the country. They remain outdoors all night, praying and chanting. In the morning, a colorful procession makes its way to a nearby hilltop where a service is held. Three young men march at the head of the crowd, lashing whips from left to right to keep the people in line. Those who worship are fed with bread and wine that has been blessed by priests. After the service is over the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sport and feasting. Christmas in Greece St. Nicholas is important in Greece as the patron saint of sailors. According to Greek tradition, his clothes are drenched with brine, his beard drips with seawater, and his face is covered with perspiration because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships and rescue them from the angry sea. Greek ships never leave port without some sort of St. Nicholas icon on board. On Christmas Eve small boys to the beating of drums and the tinkling of triangles usually sing carols. They go from house to house and are given dried figs, almonds, walnuts and lots of sweets or sometimes small gifts. After 40 days of fasting, the Christmas feast is looked forward to with great anticipation by adults and children alike. Pigs are slaughtered and on almost every table are loaves of christopsomo or "Christ Bread". This bread is made in large sweet loaves of various shapes and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession. Christmas trees are not commonly used in Greece. In almost every home the main symbol of the season is a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim; from that hangs a sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross. A small amount of water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, a family member, usually the mother, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house. This ritual is believed to keep the Killantzaroi away from the house. There is a tradition kallikantzeri, where the mischievous goblins appear from the earth during the 12 days of Christmas. At Christmas very few presents are given to each other. Instead, small gifts are given to hospitals and orphanages. Priests sometimes go from house to house sprinkling holy water around to get rid of the bad spirits who may be hiding in people's houses. In most Greek homes an evergreen tree is decorated with tinsel and a star placed on top. Gifts are exchanged on January 1st, St Basil's Day. On Christmas Eve, groups of people gather around the holiday table. Figs, dried on rooftops are served with the spicy golden Chrisopsomo bread. As people are they greet one another by saying Hronia polla or many happy years. The table filled with food may include such dishes as kourambiethes, a Greek nut cookie. Christmas in Holland St Nicholas arrives early in Holland with his gifts, in November. He is dressed in Bishop's robes and journeys in a boat with his helper who is called Black Peter and who wears Spanish clothes. It is said that the pair live most of the year preparing lists of presents and writing every child's behavior in a very large book. Many people go to Amsterdam docks to greet him. He mounts a snow horse and rides through the streets in a great parade, amid many festivities. December 5th is Sinterklaas Eve or Sinterklass Eve, and presents are given and received. Farmers in Holland blow long horns at sunset each evening during the Christmas period. The horns are blown over water wells which makes the sound extremely loud. This is done to announce the coming of Christmas. All Dutch children know that Sinterklaas or Sinterklass lived in Spain, where he spends his time recording the behavior of all the children in his little red book, while Piet stocks up on the presents. Christmas Day is a religious time, and the day is spent with visits to Church. In the afternoon, people sit around the tree, sing carols and tell stories. Christmas in the Holy Land Christmas in the Holy Land where Christ is believed to have been born is often full of travelers come to celebrate Christmas. Here in a grotto there is a 14-pointed Silver Star on the floor is where the birthplace is supposed to have been. There are three Christmas Eves in the Holy Land. One on the 24th December celebrated by the Protestant and Catholic Churches. The second for the Greek Orthodox, Coptic (Egyptian) and Syrian churches. The third is the Armenian Church. At times, all three services are going on at the same time, but, in different parts of the church, as well as in different languages. For lunch they eat turkey, spiced with pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg and stuffed with rice, meat,, pine nuts and almonds. Early in the evening, members of the Protestant church groups would go around singing carols. On Christmas morning children would open their presents before breakfast. After breakfast Protestant people would go to church, and visit friends to wish them a happy Christmas. The Catholic Church priests would come a bless water from which all members of the family would take a sip. The member of the Greek Orthodox Church Epiphany is very important. They have a special church service at which a cross was dipped into water to bless it. People would take the water home with them drink three sips before eating anything.

Christmas in India
Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches with red flowers. They give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people. In India, the poinsettia is in flower and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom for the Christmas Midnight Mass. In South India, Christians put small clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses at Christmas, just as the Hindus do during their festival called Diwali. Christmas in Iran (Persia) Christmas in Iran is known as the Little Feast. For the first 25 days of December, a great fast is observed, during which no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is eaten. It is a time of peace and meditation; a time for attending services at the church. When the fast is over, the feast is begun, for plenty of meat is prepared for the Christmas dinner. Christmas Eve is the last day of the fast. Almost before dawn on Christmas Day, the people attend Mass to receive Communion and it is not until they have received this Communion that they are permitted to break fast. The boys and girls of Iran have never heard of Santa Claus, so they do not exchange gifts at Christmas. But they do receive new clothes, which they proudly wear all during the happy Christmas week. A dish eaten for Christmas day is a kind of chicken stew. It is cooked in large quantities and lasts several days. Christmas in Iraq In the Christian homes an unusual ceremony is held in the courtyard of the home on Christmas Eve. One of the children in the family reads the story of the Nativity from an Arabic Bible. The other members of the family hold lighted candles, and as soon as the story has been read a bonfire is lit in one corner of the courtyard. The fire is made of dried thorns and the future of the house for the coming year depends upon the way the fire burns. If the thorns burn to ashes, the family will have good fortune. While the fire is burning, a psalm is sung. When the fire is reduced to ashes, everyone jumps over the ashes three times and makes a wish. On Christmas day a similar bonfire is built in the church. While the fire burns the men of the congregation chant a hymn. Then there is a procession in which the officials of the church march behind the bishop, who carries an image of the infant Jesus upon a scarlet cushion. The long Christmas service always ends with the blessing of the people. The bishop reaches forth and touches a member of the congregation with his hand, putting his blessing upon him. That person touches the one next him, and so on, until all have received "the Touch of Peace."

Christmas Around the World 25
Christmas Around the World
Continued from Page 24
Christmas in Italy The Christmas season in Italy goes for three weeks, starting 8 days before Christmas known as the Novena. During this period, children go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing. In some parts shepherds bring musical instruments into the villages, play and sing Christmas songs. In the week before Christmas children go from house to house dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, singing and reciting Christmas poems. They are given money to buy presents. A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features as well as chocolate. Presents and empty boxes, are drawn from the Urn of Fate - lucky dip, which always contains one gift per person. By twilight, candles are lighted around the family crib known as the Presepio, prayers are said, and children recite poems. At noon on Christmas Day the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square. In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good. Christmas in Japan Only 1 per cent of Japanese people believe in Christ. Even so, most Japanese people decorate their stores and homes with evergreens during Christmas. They enjoy giving each other gifts, and this is the part they celebrate. They have a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who acts like Santa Claus. He brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children. Some think he has eyes in the back of his head, so children try to behave like he is nearby. Among the Christian Japanese Christmas is not a day for the family. They do not have turkey or plum pudding, rather than that the day is spent doing nice things for others especially those who are sick in hospitals. Christmas for those in Sunday schools is the happiest day of the year. On Christmas Eve or Christmas night, the children put on programs that last for hours, they sing, they recite and they put on a drama of the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Most children may not like Hotei-osho so they may receive their presents from Santa who goes around with a red-nosed reindeer. Christmas in Mexico Mexicans share many traditions with the Spanish. Their main Christmas celebration is called La Posada, which is a religious procession that reenacts the search for shelter by Joseph and Mary before the birth of Jesus. During the procession, the celebrants go from house to house carrying the images of Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. Santa Claus is not predominant, but the bright red suit is represented in the traditional flower of the season. This flower is the poinsettia, which has a brilliant red star-shaped bloom. It is believed that a young boy walking to the church to see the nativity scene showing the birth of Jesus had realized on the way that he had no gift to offer the Christ child so he gathered up some plain green branches as he walked in he was laughed at but upon placing the branches near the manger they started to bloom a bright red poinsettia flower on each branch. The Mexican children receive gifts. On Christmas day they are blindfolded and taken to try and break a decorated clay piñata that dangles and swings at the end of a rope. Once the piñata has been broken, the children clamber to recover the candy that was inside the piñata. Those children who have been good also on January 6th receive a gift from the Three Wise Men. Mexicans attend a midnight mass service which is called la Misa Del Gallo or "the rooster's mass," and at the mass they sing lullabies to Jesus. Christmas in Nicaragua Christmas begins officially on December 6 in Nicaragua, but actual activities begin on December 16 with the performance of the lodging difficulties of Mary and Joseph. The home where lodging is found, supplies wine and food. Every home contains a manger scene. From December 16 until Christmas Eve Mass, prayer is held each evening in the home, followed by refreshments and the singing of carols. After Christmas Eve Mass, the Christmas dinner is consumed with only the adults in attendance. Christmas cards are exchanged which are white and plain. Christmas Day is celebrated with much fun and eating, fireworks and dancing. The main streets of the town and cities are decorated and have loud-speakers broadcasting Christmas carols. Christmas in Pakistan In Pakistan 25 December is a public holiday it is however in memory of Jinnah the founder of Pakistan. In Christian homes they celebrate Christmas with the exchanging of gifts and cards, the wearing of new clothes and the visiting of houses of friends. They have a church service which is packed on Christmas day which is called Bara Din the big day. Christmas in Peru In Peru nativity scenes with Retablos inside are very popular. When priests were first taken to traveling they would carry small altars around with them for festival days. These gradually developed into portable boxes with saints above the altar and scenes from everyday life below it. Now the retablos depict Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, with local people crowding around. Christmas in Russia In Russia the religious festival of Christmas is being replaced by the Festival of Winter but there are some traditions that are still kept up in some parts of the country. In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days, until January 6th Christmas Eve, when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honor of each of the twelve apostles fish, beet soup or Borsch, cabbage stuffed with millet, cooked dried fruit and much more. Hay is spread on the floors and tables to encourage horse feed to grow in the coming year and people make clucking noises to encourage their hens to lay eggs. On Christmas Day, hymns and carols are sung. People gather in churches which have been decorated with the usual Christmas trees or Yelka, flowers and colored lights. Christmas dinner includes a variety of different meats - goose and suckling pig are favorites. Babushka is a traditional Christmas figure who distributes presents to children. Her name means grandmother and the legend is told that she declined to go with the wise men to see Jesus because of the cold weather. (Ctd Pg 26)

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26 Christmas Around the World
Christmas Around the World
Continued from Page 25
Christmas in Russia Continues However, she regretted not going and set off to try and catch up, filling her basket with presents. She never found Jesus, and that is why she visits each house, leaving toys for good children. The role of Father Christmas was played by Dedushka Moroz or Grandfather Christmas Christmas in South America Native Bolivians celebrate Christmas more as a harvest festival. Thanks are given for completion of the year's work. They give an account of the work done during the year and propose what is to be done the next year. Christmas tends to become a feast of adoration of the Goddess Mother Earth, who is asked to bring a fruitful harvest, to keep away plagues, and to give a prosperous year. In Brazil Santa Claus is little known and those who do know of the jolly fellow call him Papa Noel. The children have no Christmas trees, but they do have a crèche or Presepio, representing the Christ-child's birth. Gifts and toys are exchanged during the holidays after which the Presepio is put away until the following Christmas. In Ecuador the children write letters to the Christ-child and place shoes in the window in which he may place toys as he passes by on Christmas Eve. Noise-making toys are common and are used with much energy on the streets on Christmas morning. Since the weather is very warm, most celebrations are in the streets. There are firecrackers, brass bands, and dancing. At midnight everyone goes to Mass. after which the family dinner is enjoyed. Christmas in Swaziland In Swaziland Christmas is on the 25th December. It is a beautiful time of year, where Christians get together, with friends and families to celebrate Christmas. The day starts with a midnight mass in church then is followed by a meal, at home. Children take this opportunity to open presents, and sing Christmas carols. Christmas in Switzerland A tinkling of a silver bell heralds the arrival of Christkindli - a white clad angel, with a face veil held in place by a jeweled crown. The tree candles are lit as she enters each house and hands out presents from the basket held by her child helpers. The week before Christmas, children dress up and visit homes with small gifts. Bell ringing has become a tradition, and each village competes with the next when calling people to midnight mass. After the service, families gather to share huge homemade doughnuts called ringli and hot chocolate. In Switzerland, the Chlausjagen Festival or Feast of St. Nichohlas is celebrated at dusk on 6 December with a procession of "lifeltrager' wearing gigantic illuminated lanterns in the shape of a Bishop's mitre on their heads. The Swiss wait for the Christ child called Christkindli, to arrive with gifts for all in his reindeer-drawn sleigh. In Switzerland, during the holiday season the Star Singers or Sternsingers dressed as the Three Kings parade through the streets of cities and towns singing Christmas songs. In Zurich, Santa visits in a special fairytale tram and gives the children a ride through the city, singing songs with them and sharing a basket full of sweets. Christmas in Ukraine Sviata Vechera OR "Holy Supper" is the central tradition of the beautiful Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem. When the children see the first Star in the eastern evening sky, which symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, the Sviata Vechera may begin. In farming communities the head of the household now brings in a sheaf of wheat called the didukh which represents the importance of the ancient and rich wheat crops of Ukraine, the staff of life through the centuries. Didukh means literally "grandfather spirit" so it symbolizes the family's ancestors. In city homes a few stalks of golden wheat in a vase are often used to decorate the table. A prayer is said and the father says the traditional Christmas greeting, "Khristos rodyvsya!" which translated is Christ is born!, which is answered by the family with "Slavite Yoho!" which translated is Let Us Glorify Him!. In some families the Old Slavic form Khristos razhdayetsya is used. At the end of the Sviata Vechera the family often sings Kolyadky which is a Ukrainian Christmas Carols. In many communities the old Ukrainian tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations. The favorite Ukrainian carol is Boh predvichny meaning God Eternal which has a very beautiful melody and lyrics. Some Ukrainian carols are unusual because they mention Ukraine while others are ancient pagan songs of a thousand years ago which have been converted into Christian carols. Christmas is a joyous day which opens for Ukrainian families with attendance at Church. Ukrainian Churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19th, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date. The traditional Christmas customs of Ukraine add color and significance to the winter festival of Christmas, and Ukrainian Christmas on January 7th is usually a peaceful and quiet event. This celebration reminds us of the baby in a Bethlehem manger whose birthday we celebrate. But whether Christmas is celebrated on December 25th or on January 7th the message is the same: "Peace on Earth! Good will towards men! In the Ukraine, Father Frost visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer. He brings along a little girl named Snowflake Girl. She wears a silver blue costume trimmed with white fur and a crown shaped like a snowflake. Christmas in Vietnam Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. However, during French rule, many people became Christians. Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, they being the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the midautumn festival. Although the Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas. On Christmas Eve the Christians would attend a midnight Mass. After Church people would return to their homes for the most important meal the Christmas supper. The dinner usually consisted of chicken soup, and wealthier people ate turkey and Christmas Pudding. The European customs of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree were popular and children would leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve. Christmas in Yugoslavia In Yugoslavia, children celebrate the second Sunday before Christmas as Mother's Day. The children creep in and tie her feet to a chair and shout, "Mother's Day, Mother's Day, what will you pay to get away?" She then gives them presents. Children play the same trick on their father the week after. Those Yugoslavs who live in the country fear bad luck if their Christmas log burns out and so someone has to stand over the log all Christmas night to ensure it stays lit up. A Christmas cake called chestnitsa, contains a gold or silver coin and is said that whomever gets it can expect lots of good luck. The Yugoslavs eat roast pig as their Christmas dish and it must be carved a particular way, according to old customs. Every household has a Christmas crib. According to old customs they go on an expedition to the forests to gather moss with which to line the crib. Also families would have an old-fashioned music box that plays Christmas carols.[]

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The Real Nativity Story
The Real Nativity Story: Surprising Truths You May Not Know!
The biblical accounts of Jesus Christ's birth present some surprising differences from popular ideas and traditions. Do you know the facts from the fiction?
by John Ross Schroeder and Doug Johnson Most of us have been brought up with the traditional Christmas story—you know, the one about Jesus being born on Christmas day in a stable in Bethlehem with the shepherds and three wise men looking on as depicted in countless manger scenes. But is that the way it really happened? Most people think so, but a careful look at what the Bible really says reveals some surprising differences. Let's examine what the Bible actually does say about the circumstances surrounding Christ's birth. While the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke describe the true story of Jesus' birth, we'll see that they assuredly do not describe the Christmas story so popular at this time of year. Luke's important background Consider first Luke, the Gospel writer who had the detailed mind of a physician and a historian. He wanted to make sure he presented all the pertinent facts. Notice his preface: " Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed" (Luke 1:1-4, New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added throughout). Luke, in other words, interviewed those who had witnessed or were knowledgeable of the events of Christ's life, and that information was the basis for his Gospel. After this important introduction, Luke begins the true story leading to Jesus' birth with an account of God's dealings with Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist: "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division [or "course"] of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth " (verse 5). Later in the account it tells us she was a cousin of Mary (verse 36, King James Version). "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and


they were both well advanced in years" (verses 6-7). Zacharias' priestly assignment or "division" helps us to know and understand the general time frame of Christ's birth. His was "the course of Abijah." But what does this mean? About a thousand years earlier, King David had organized the Levitical priesthood into 24 "courses" or "divisions." As explained in 1 Chronicles 24 and more specifically in verses 3, 10 and 19, there was an abundance of priests to serve in the various temple functions. Not wanting any to be left out of serving, David's solution was to divide the priests into 24 courses. Each priest would then serve for a specified week-long term twice during the year, plus the three festival seasons (Deuteronomy 16:16) when all the priests would serve. The question is: Do we know at what times of the year the course of Abijah served at the temple? Yes, we do. The determination can be made by combining the information in 1 Chronicles 24 with a study into the traditions of Judaism regarding when the temple courses were carried out during the year. The evidence points to Zacharias' week of service described by Luke being around Pentecost, which generally falls in late May to mid-June on our calendar. Although they fall at specific times on God's sacred calendar, the dates of His annual Holy Days and festivals vary up to several weeks on the Roman calendar we use today. So it seems we can ascertain when Zacharias was serving in the temple. One resource, The Companion Bible, calculates it to the week of June 13-19 in the determined year (1974, Appendix 179, p. 200). An unexpected angelic appearance

What happened next would have been rather frightening to anyone. "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him . . . And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, 'Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John'" (verses 11-13). Then the angel explained the mission of Zacharias' son-to-be, John the Baptist: "He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb . . . He will also go before Him [Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah] in the spirit and power of Elijah . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (verses 15-17). Although a righteous man, in this instance Zacharias was all too human and displayed a lack of faith in the angel Gabriel's message. Because of his unbelief, he would not be able to speak again until his son John was born (verses 18-20). Timing of conceptions Elizabeth's and Mary's

"So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months" (Luke 1:23-24). Since Zacharias' temple course was in mid-June, assuming she became pregnant within a couple of weeks, five months would put this into mid- to late November. The scene then shifts to the Messiah's birth: "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph . . . The angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women" (verses 26-28). (Continued on Page 31)

Luke's account continues: "So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord" (Luke 1:8-9).



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The primary purpose of this book is to empower readers and encourage them to become proactive consumer-patients. This book isn't an attempt to be politically correct, but is dedicated to providing tools that readers can put to use when they encounter challenges when making their best efforts to navigate their way into, through and out of the maze that has become our healthcare system. Americans are concerned more about healthcare than the mortgage crisis, credit card debt, rising food prices, or losing money in the stock market. Now is the time to get educated, find out what the future might hold, and get active in the decision-making that surrounds your healthcare. With physicians making misdiagnoses between fifteen and twenty percent of the time, the examination room treadmill speeding up, and emergency rooms stressed out and overcrowded, here is a wakeup call that encourages the adoption of a more responsible, proactive, energetic, and consumer oriented attitude when it comes to personal and family health - before it is too late. Educated in England, the U.S. and Switzerland, Jeff Knott has wide experience in healthcare serving as International Marketing Director for Johnson & Johnson worldwide. He has lectured as a visiting professor at a number of universities, spoken on international subjects and appeared on TV. He is co-chairman of Healthy Together and is a trustee of the University of Tampa


The Real Nativity Story
The Real Nativity Story: Surprising Truths You May Not Know!
The biblical accounts of Jesus Christ's birth present some surprising differences from popular ideas and traditions. Do you know the facts from the fiction?
Continued from Page 29
This account clearly shows that Mary was a remarkable young woman of faith. Gabriel said to her, "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest . . . And He will reign over the house of Jacob [Israel] forever" (verses 31-33). Mary, since she was a virgin, then asked the obvious question. The answer came back: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you" (verse 35). Gabriel emphasized God's miracleworking power: "Now indeed, Elizabeth, your relative [ cousin, KJV] has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible" (verses 36-37). Mary and Elizabeth So a little more time has elapsed. It is now Elizabeth's sixth month, perhaps late December or a little beyond. "Now Mary arose in those days [the same basic time frame] and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb" (verses 39-41). Elizabeth at this time was in her sixth month of pregnancy with John the Baptist. It would not be a stretch to understand from the previous passage that Mary was now also pregnant with Jesus. Elizabeth even speaks of Mary as though she knows Mary is an expectant mother: "But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy" (verses 43-44). Verse 56 says, "And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house." Timewise it was now late March. Mary stayed with Elizabeth right to the birth of John the Baptist. "Now Elizabeth 's full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son" (verse 57). We see, then, that Mary was probably three months pregnant when John was born. John was probably born in late March or early April. So when was Jesus Christ born? Six months later would be late September or early October—in the autumn of the year, not in the dead of winter, as so many today mistakenly assume. The evidence of the Roman census Can we find other biblical evidence that Jesus was born in the autumn rather than in winter? Indeed we can. Continuing in Luke's account: "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered" (Luke 2:1). "All the world" in this context would mean all the areas under Roman rule. "This census took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city" (verses 2-3). What kind of people were the Romans when it came to order and efficiency? They built bridges, roads and buildings that in some cases are still in use to this day, 2,000 years later. Their roads were marvels of engineering. They constructed great waterworks and sewage systems. Even today, our city planning owes a great deal to the Romans. Even much of modern government and military organization is copied from the Romans. They were masters of organization and structure. Would the Romans, then, have ordered a census in the dead of winter? Of course not. This would have defeated the whole purpose! In winter, temperatures drop below freezing around Jerusalem, and the roads would have been muddy and wet with cold rains and occasional snow. It would've been a terrible time to travel, especially for a wife nearing her delivery. One author states that this census "could hardly have been at that season [winter], however, for such a time would surely not have been chosen by the authorities for a public enrollment, which necessitated the population's traveling from all parts to their natal districts, storms and rain making journeys both unsafe and unpleasant in winter, except in specially favorable years. Snow is not at all uncommon at Jerusalem in the winter months, and I have known it so deep that people lost their way outside the gates" (Cunningham Geikie, "Christmas at Bethlehem," Edward Deems, editor, Holy-Days and Holidays, 1968, p. 405). No rational Roman official would have scheduled a census in winter. For an agrarian society such as that of first-century Judea, a census in the autumn, when the crops would've been safely gathered in, would have made much more sense. Why was there no room in Bethlehem? Picking up our story in Luke again, we find other biblical evidence for the true timing of Jesus Christ's birth. "Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth . . . because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered" (verses 4-6). We don't know how far ahead of time they traveled, nor how long they were there for the census. The essential point is that the most important human birth in all history took place


under these circumstances. "And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloth, and laid Him in a manger [margin, feed trough], because there was no room for them in the inn" (verse 7). But why was there no room for Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem? We learn a great deal from understanding the culture of the time. If we have judged the time frame correctly based on John being conceived shortly after the time of the first term of Abijah around Pentecost, and his birth following nine months later, followed by Jesus' birth six months after that in late September or possibly early October, was something else happening at that particular time of the year that would've created crowded conditions in Bethlehem? Indeed there was. Late September and early October is the autumn festival season on God's calendar, one of the three times in the year when families would travel to Jerusalem to observe God's Holy Days (see Deuteronomy 16:16). With the Jews of Israel still obeying this command, even today it is difficult to find a hotel room in Jerusalem at this time of year! The population of Jerusalem swelled several times over to overflowing at this time. This affected nearby towns such as Bethlehem, a few miles south of Jerusalem. Because of this huge influx of people, every house was filled. Joseph and Mary did find a place in what was normally used to shelter animals. It certainly wouldn't have been first class, but likely they were thankful to have even that. The shepherds and their flocks Continuing in Luke's account, we find further proof that Jesus wasn't born in winter. Verse 8 tells us, " Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night." This likewise shows that these events did not take place in winter. The common practice of shepherds was to keep their flocks in the open fields from April to October, but in the cold and wet winter months they took their flocks back home and sheltered them. The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary (1971) says this passage argues "against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted" shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Adam Clarke's Commentary explains that, "as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this disputed point." Again, the evidence in Luke points to a late September birth. (Continued on Page 32)

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The Real Nativity Story
"And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, 'In Bethlehem of Judea'" (verses 4-5). King Herod carefully concealed his murderous intentions. "Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also'" (verses 7-8). Notice that now Herod referred to Jesus not as a baby, but as "the young Child." He realized how long their travels would have taken the wise men—possibly from as far away as Parthia or the region around Babylon, where the Israelites and Jews had been exiled centuries before. Herod knew from when the star had appeared that he was not seeking a newborn baby, but a boy by now considerably older. And to remove any threat to his position, Herod "put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men" (verse 16). Herod, covering all of his bases in protecting his throne, ordered the murderous slaughter of those 2 years old and under. It wasn't the common nativity scene The wise men were miraculously guided to the Christ child (verses 9-10). "And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother" (verse 11). The typical nativity scene completely falls apart at this point. There is no mention of a manger here. Rather Jesus was, as stated, in a house. And Jesus was no longer an infant, He was a young child. The wise men obviously visited Jesus long after the shepherds had come and gone—perhaps a year or more later. The typical manger scene includes three wise men. The Bible, however, nowhere says how many wise men there were. It does note, however, that they presented three kinds of giftsto Him—gold, frankincense and myrrh. Why these three particular gifts? Their symbolism is striking when we understand it. Gold was a gift for royalty—in this case the chosen King of the Jews and ultimately the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" who will rule over the entire earth (Revelation 19:16). Frankincense was an incense intimately connected with the priesthood and temple sacrifices, foreshadowing the fact that Jesus Christ would serve as our High Priest and give Himself as the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind (Hebrews 4:14-15; 9:11-14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Myrrh had a much more sobering symbolism. When a person died, this perfuming agent was wrapped with the body to help cover up the stench of death. Jesus' own body would be wrapped in linen with myrrh and aloes (John 19:39-40). Why we should celebrate God's Holy Days instead Matthew and Luke reveal the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ and the general timing of when it really occurred. John the Baptist was born in the spring. His cousin Jesus was born six months later—probably in late September, possibly early October. The shepherds visited immediately; the wise men— their number unknown—arrived much later. It's tragic that the true story should have become so badly garbled by human traditions. It's also tragic that people ignore the Bible's clear instructions and invent their own. Jesus Himself roundly condemned religious leaders of His day who were "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition" (Mark 7:13). A strong and weighty biblical principle is found in Deuteronomy 12. It tells us why we should observe the annual Holy Days and festivals God has revealed in His Word—not traditional holidays borrowed from paganism: "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates have they done to their gods . . . whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it, nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:31-32). Have you ever thought it curious that although two of the Gospel writers describe the circumstances surrounding Christ's birth (the other two don't even cover the event), neither of them gives the date? Has it puzzled you that the Bible never once mentions "Christmas"? And that none of the biblical writers says anything about commemorating that birth? We do find, however, explicit commands to commemorate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and death on our behalf (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). We also find commands to observe other biblical festivals, the same festivals Jesus and the New Testament Church celebrated. Isn't it about time you looked into the Bible to see what God's Word says about them? []

The Real Nativity Story: Surprising Truths You May Not Know!
The biblical accounts of Jesus Christ's birth present some surprising differences from popular ideas and traditions. Do you know the facts from the fiction?
Continued from Page 31
The shepherds come to see Jesus Continuing the story in Luke 2:10-17: " Then the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.' ". . . And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child." We might notice that only the shepherds arrive in time to see Jesus in the manger. The wise men, as we will see, didn't arrive on the scene until later. " And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord'), and to offer a sacrifice . . . a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:2124; compare Exodus 13:2). This was called "redeeming the firstborn." Leviticus 12:2-3, 6 tells us that this ceremony occurred 40 days after the birth of a son. So if Christ was born in late September, we are now into mid-November. The wise men and Herod We'll now continue the story flow in Matthew 2:1-3: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 'Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.' When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him." Why did this news disturb Herod? Other historical accounts attest to Herod's paranoia about being overthrown. The news that a new king of the Jews had been born threatened his position. Herod obviously knew of the traditions and the prophecies relating to the Messiah.

More Christmas Factoids!
Cultured Christmas trees must be shaped as they grow to produce fuller foliage. To slow the upward growth and to encourage branching, they are hand-clipped in each spring. Trees grown in the wild have sparser branches, and are known in the industry as "Charlie Brown" trees. During the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration, the log burned was called the "Yule log." Sometimes a piece of the Yule log would be kept to kindle the fire the following winter, to ensure that the good luck carried on from year to year. The Yule log custom was handed down from the Druids. During the Christmas buying season, Visa cards alone are used an average of 5,340 times every minute in the United States. During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes will be made. During World War II it was necessary for Americans to mail Christmas gifts early for the troops in Europe to receive them in time. Merchants joined in the effort to remind the public to shop and mail early and the protracted shopping season was born. For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place. MERRY CHRISTMAS ‘X’ ZONE NATION

The Little Drummer Boy
The Little Drummer Boy
David grew up in the kitchen of the inn. His father was the innkeeper. His mother cooked the food. David's older sisters cleaned the rooms, and his older brother swept the stable. David loved to sing. He would sing to his mother as she cooked the food. David made up songs and banged on pots and bowls as he sang to her. David's mother smiled at him. "Someday you will sing in the temple, my son," his mother said. David grinned at his mother. "Tem-ple," David said very carefully. David's father came into the kitchen. "How is my big boy?" David's father asked as he swung David onto his shoulders. "Pum Pum Pum! Tem-ple come!" David sang as he drummed on his father's head with a wooden spoon. David's father smiled as his son kept on drumming. "We must find this boy a drum or my poor head will not survive!" said David's father, with a laugh. A few years later David got a small drum for his birthday. Soon he was beating rhythms on his drum wherever he went. Pat-arum, pat-a-rum, pat-a-rum, David drummed to copy the donkeys on the road. Swish-clickclick-tum, swish-click-click-tum, went David's drumming to copy his brother sweeping straw in the stable. One day David's father said to his family, "We are going to be very busy. Caesar Augustus has ordered a count of all the families in all the towns." "Pum Pum. Pa-rum-pum-pumpum. I counted six of us!" David sang. "Why does this make us busy?" "Because people will come to Bethlehem to be counted with their families," said David's father. "They will need a place to stay. They will stay with us, and we will be very busy." David's mother cooked more food. David's sisters cleaned the rooms. David's brother swept out the stable and put new hay and pots of water in the stalls. David's father greeted the people as they came into town. Soon the inn was very full. David played his drum and sang his songs for the people. Late one night there was a knock at the door. David peeked around his father at the young man and his wife, who was on a donkey. They had no room for these people! What could they do? David's father was a kind man. "You can stay in the stable," he said. "It is warm and dry there. I can send food out to you." The young man thanked David's father and walked the donkey to the stable. David helped his mother carry bread and cheese out to the young couple. His mother told him the woman was going to have a baby soon. The next day there was a lot of excitement. "The young woman who stayed in the stable last night had her baby," David's mother told him. "The baby is the King of Kings, they say!" said David's father. David could not see the baby because of the crowd around the stable. David stood at the back of the crowd and began to make up a song for the baby: "Come, they told me, our newborn king to see. Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king. So to honor him when we come." The crowd began to part when they heard David's beautiful singing: "Baby Jesus, I


am a poor boy, too. I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king. Shall I play for you on my drum? David stepped closer to Mary, Joseph, and their son. Baby Jesus smiled at David, reached out, and patted his drum. Love, spirit, and the beat of his drum brought one little boy closer to the infant Jesus. Continue to the next page to Read 'The Wishing Star,' and learn how hope, love, and a shining star helped bring another little boy closer to someone he loved -- on Christmas Eve.

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name; "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!" As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof, The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.” []

Santa’s Reindeer
The legend of Santa's reindeer was created in a famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863). Clement was the son of the bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York. The poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" was written as a Christmas gift for his children in 1822. The poem is currently better known by the title "The Night Before Christmas" from its famous opening line. Santa has eight reindeer, who magically pull his sleigh through the sky. They are named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. Another, perhaps now more famous, reindeer used by Santa on foggy nights is Rudolf. The story of Rudolf the red-nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L May in 1939, in a give-away booklet for the Montgomery Ward department stores chain of Chicago where he worked. Rudolf the red-nosed Reindeer was then made famouse by the song recorded by Gene Autry in 1949. Here is an extract from Clement Clarke Moore's famous work:When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,


WorldShift 2012 by Erin Laszlo

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Christmas Traditions
Christmas Stockings

Christmas Traditions

Christmas stockings are hung near the chimney on Christmas Eve for Santa Claus to fill it with goodies for the children. It is an empty sock or a bag that is given the shape of a sock. The children in United States and some other countries have been following this tradition of hanging a Christmas stocking, believing that Father Christmas will fill it with sweets and gifts for them. The items that are believed to be stuffed in the Christmas stocking by Santa Claus are known as stocking stuffers. The tradition of the Christmas stockings began by a story told since ancient time about a kind noble man who had three daughters. The wife of the nobleman expired and the daughters and their father were left in a state of sorrow. The daughters had to do all the work in the house. When the daughters became young and eligible for marriage, the poor father could not afford to give the huge dowries to their husbands. One evening the daughters, after washing their stockings hung them near the fire place to be dried. Santa Claus being moved by the plight of the daughters came in and put in three bags of gold one in each of the stocking hanging by the chimney. The next morning the family noticed the gold bags and the nobleman had enough for his daughter’s marriage. The daughters got married and they lived happily ever after. Since then children have been hanging Christmas stockings. Christmas stockings are supposed to have the gifts given by Santa Claus. The other gifts are wrapped in present papers and placed near the Christmas tree. It is believed that a child who misbehaves during the year will not get a gift in their Christmas stocking. The Christmas stockings are traditionally hung on the fireplace. But as most of the modern homes do not have a fireplace, any location is suitable for hanging the Christmas stockings. In many traditions the Christmas stocking is to be stuffed by a gift that will stimulate the five sensory organs. The gift given by Santa Claus would be something to eat, a thing that makes a sound and gives a pleasant view to the eyes or gift which has a lovely fragrance. In the present modern culture there are special Christmas stockings available in the market. Some families design unique stockings for each family member. Mistletoe

In Northern Europe Christmas occurred during the middle of winter, when ghosts and demons could be heard howling in the winter winds. Boughs of holly, believed to have magical powers since they remained green through the harsh winter, were often placed over the doors of homes to drive evil away. Greenery was also brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter. Legend also has it that holly sprang from the footsteps of Christ as he walked the earth. The pointed leaves were said to represent the crown of thorns Christ wore while on the cross and the red berries symbolized the blood he shed. Mistletoe was used by Druid priests 200 years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the plant since it had no roots yet remained green during the cold months of winter. The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace. Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year. Holly, Ivy and Greenery Poinsettias

A native Mexican plant, poinsettias were named after Joel R. Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant to America in 1828. Poinsettias were likely used by Mexican Franciscans in their 17th century Christmas celebrations. One legend has it that a young Mexican boy, on his way to visit the village Nativity scene, realized he had no gift for the Christ child. He gathered pretty green branches from along the road and brought them to the church. (Continued on Page 38)

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Poinsettias Continues

Christmas Traditions
family Maccabee led a revolt against the Greek Syrians due to the policies of Syrian King Antiochus IV which were aimed at nullifying the Jewish faith. Part of this strategem included changing the Beit HaMikdash - the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - to a Greek temple complete with idolatry. Led by Judah Maccabee, the Jews won victory over the Syrians in 165 BC and reclaimed their temple. After cleansing the temple and preparing for its rededication, it was found there was not enough oil to light the N'er Tamid, an oil lamp present in Jewish houses of worship which represents eternal light. Once lit, the lamp should never be extinguished. A search of the temple produced a small vial of undefiled oil -- enough for only one day. Miraculously, the Temple lights burned for eight days until a new supply of oil was brought. In remembrance of this miracle, one candle of the Menorah - an eight branched candelabra - is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah, which means dedication, is a Hebrew word when translated is commonly spelled Hanukah, Chanukah, and Hannukah due to different translations and customs. The tradition of receiving gifts on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is relatively new and due in part to the celebration's proximity to the Christmas season. Kwanzaa

Christmas Traditions
Continued from Page 36

Though the other children mocked him, when the leaves were laid at the manger, a beautiful star-shaped flower appeared on each branch. The bright red petals, often mistaken for flowers, are actually the upper leaves of the plant. The Candy cane copywriter Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in 1939, and 2.4 million copies were handed out that year. Despite the wartime paper shortage, over 6 million copies had been distributed by 1946. May drew in part on the story "The Ugly Duckling" and in part from his own experiences as an often taunted, small, frail youth to create the story of the misfit reindeer. Though Rollo and Reginald were considered, May settled on Rudolph as his reindeer's name. Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story Sadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward's corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May's financial security. May's story "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May's brother-inlaw, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song "Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer", the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry's wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon. Hanukkah

It was not long after Europeans began using Christmas trees that special decorations were used to adorn them. Food items, such as candies and cookies, were used predominately and straight white candy sticks were one of the confections used as ornamentation. Legend has it that during the 17th century, craftsmen created the white sticks of candy in the shape of shephreds' crooks at the suggestion of the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. The candy treats were given to children to keep them quiet during ceremonies at the living creche, or Nativity scene, and the custom of passing out the candy crooks at such ceremonies soon spread throughout Europe. According to the National Confectioner's Association, in 1847 German immigrant August Imgard used the candy cane to decorate a Christmas tree in Wooster, Ohio. More than 50 years later, Bob McCormack of Albany, Georgia supposedly made candy canes as treats for family, friends and local shopkeepers. McCormack's brother-in-law, Catholic priest Gregory Keller, invented a machine in the 1950s that automated the production of candy canes, thus eliminating the usual laborious process of creating the treats and the popularity of the candy cane grew. More recent explanations of the candy cane's symbolism hold that the color white represents Christ's purity, the red the blood he shed, and the presence of three red stripes the Holy Trinity. While factual evidence for these notions does not exist, they have become increasingly common and at times are even represented as fact. Regardless, the candy cane remains a favorite holiday treat and decoration. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer The Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company, department store operators, had been purchasing and distributing children's coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customers for several years. In 1939, Montgomery Ward tapped one of their own employees to create a book for them, thus saving money. 34-year old

Commencing on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the Syrians. In 168 BC, members of the Jewish

Doctor Maulana Karenga, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach, California, created Kwanzaa in 1966. It is a holiday celebrated by millions of AfricanAmericans around the world, encouraging them to remember their African heritage and consider their current place in America today. Kwanzaa is celebrated fom December 26 to January 1 and involves seven principles called Nguzo Saba: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Selfdetermination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). In the Kwanzaa ritual, seven candles called Mishumaa Saba are placed in a Kinara, or candleholder, which is then set upon the Mikeka, a mat usually made of straw. Three green candles are placed on the left, three red candles on the right and a black candle in the center, each candle representing one of the seven principles of the celebration. One candle is lit each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, beginning from left to right The colors of Kwanzaa ~ black, red and green ~ also have a special significance. Black symbolizes the faces of the African people, Red symbolizes the blood they have shed, and Green represents hope and the color of the motherland. The name itself - Kwanzaa - is a Swahili word meaning "fruits of the harvest."


Christmas in Canada
Christmas in Canada has a neat a little history, Canada was claimed by England in the 1400's later in the 1600's a French explorer by the name of Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City, and Canada became a country with two distinctive backgrounds living as one. Christmas Eve for the French Canadian was the highlight of the holidays preparing for days for the reveillon, the evening meal. They would the decorate the tree and place the creche, a Nativity scene under the tree before going to midnight mass. They would then come home from church to a feast of la tourtiere, a meat pie and various other dishes. Topping off the meal was the Yule log, a chocolate cake in the shape of a log to symbolize the birch log burned in the fireplace on reveillon before the French came to Canada. The children would open their gifts from their stockings during reveillon saving the big gifts for New Year's day. Christmas day for the French was a day for relaxation and for children to play and have fun. Christmas for English Canadian's focused on Christmas day, with the exchanging of presents on Christmas day in the morning, and then off to church, and back later for a great feast. Dinner consisted of roast goose or beef and plum pudding. One fun tradition they had was the kissing ball -- a ring of evergreen boughs with candles, apples and nuts hung in doorway. Although it really represented the return of light after the winter solstice, young men used this opportunity to steal a kiss from any single lady standing under it, hence the name of kissing ball. Christmas today in Canada is a conglomerate of cultures and traditions from all over the world. As in the United States, our country was populated with people emigrating from other countries searching for a better life. The Christmas tree came from Germany, as well as the Advent Calendars and gingerbread House, the English introduced greeting cards, from Ireland came the custom of decorating our windows with lights, the United States gave us Santa Claus, and the French introduced the creche (Nativity) scene and carols. So really a Canadian Christmas is a mixture of various cultures combined to create the festivities we have come to know. When I sat down to write this article, I was not sure what to write about, since Christmas in Canada is basically the same as Christmas in the United States. As I was doing research, I came across articles on the Boston Christmas tree. Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I had taken this tradition for granted, and had not really taken a look at the significance behind this tradition. This seems to be a habit we all can to fall into around the holidays, getting caught up into the shopping and commercialism Christmas has become, and forgetting what Christmas is all about. For those of you that have not heard of the Boston Christmas Tree tradition, it started over eighty years ago with the Halifax Explosion. On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the harbor and caused a large explosion heard over 100 Km away. The explosion and the tidal wave in its aftermath


destroyed over 325 acres of the north end of the city, killing over 1900 people, and injuring over 9000 more. In response to this devastation, the people of Boston sent help in the form of doctors, nurses, food and supplies. And as a small token of appreciation, Canadians send a special Christmas tree to Boston every year. Christmas is a time for tradition and goodwill toward others. The story of the people of Boston helping others in their time of need, even though it was not actually Christmas, still exhibits the true spirit of Christmas. And because of the kindness of strangers, a celebration between two cities in two separate countries has become a holiday tradition.

Pastry: Stir the flour, salt, baking soda, turmeric and savory together in a bowl. Cut in the lard until pieces are the size of peas. Add ice water by the tablespoon, stirring with a fork or finger tips until just enough water has been added that you can pat the dough lightly into a ball. (Since flour varies, you may not need all the water). Roll out dough and pat with butter, and roll up towards you like a jelly-roll. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before using. Filling: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to break meat into small pieces. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Roll out chilled dough, and cut two pieces for one 8-inch pie or 8 individual pie plates. Line pie plate with one of pieces of pastry. Fill generously with meat mixture. Top with the other pastry and pinch edges together. Brush top with an egg beaten with 2 tbsp. (30 ml) of water. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden brown, serve hot.

Add a bit of Quebec to your Christmas meal this winter. A meat lover's delight, this savory pork pie is sure to stave off the heartiest of appetites. Ingredients Pastry: 2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour 1 tsp (5 ml) salt 1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda pinch of turmeric 1/4 tsp (1 ml) savory 1/2 cup (125 ml) pure lard 1/3 (80 ml) ice water 1/3 (80 ml) butter Filling: 1 lb ground pork 2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated 1 small onion, chopped 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tsp. (5 ml) salt 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) savory 1/4 (1 ml) ground cloves 1/2 cup (125 ml) water Cooking Instructions


Chuckin’ Chuck by Mike Seid


Available at Barnes &

Available at Barnes &

The Astonishing Tale... Mike Seid has written the book - Chuckin' Chuck The Astonishing Tale of Charles Manson Pitching in the Major Leagues. Desensitized. That’s what all sports fans have become to the plethora of criminal-athletes that pervade our sports culture. So what will the bombastic owner of the New England Mavericks do when he learns that America’s most notorious inmate has developed a literally unhittable pitch while playing for his prison baseball team? A sportsworld littered with bad boys who belong on Cops rather than on a box of Wheaties is deplorable. But when a man can throw the ball 81 times per game and not one pitch is so much as foul-tipped…what’s not to love?

Merry Christmas To Our Troops






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Christmas poems have been part of the Christmas tradition for ages. These poems have been written by famous poets over centuries. They are commonly written on the traditions, history and origin of Christmas. These poems go back hundreds of years. The famous poem "Nativity" was written by John Donne who was born in 1572. However, the tradition of writing poems specifically for Christmas started in 1822 when Clement C. Moore published his famous poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas". The poem was published under a different name - the popularly known "Night Before Christmas." He wrote it as a gift for his children and read it to them during the Christmas time. It was the story of Santa Claus, flying around on his sleigh with eight reindeers and climbing down chimneys. The story of that poem eventually became inseparable from Christmas and has forever been woven into the very idea of Christmas. Other poets have contributed to the rich collection of popular Christmas poems. Poets like Thomas hardy, Henry, Vaughan, Richard Wilber and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow have penned Christmas poems in their times. Some Christmas poems are dedicated to the special occasion of Christmas, while others are religious and dedicated to the Jesus Christ and His teachings. Still others are children poems meant for kids to playfully sing with friends during the Christmas season. All these poems have a common thread – they are all in the spirit of the Christmas season and touch a cord in the heart of anyone who sings it or listens to it. These also form the emotional connections to fond memories of childhood, when children of today become adults of tomorrow. Poems have a life of their own. Admittedly, seasoned poets know how to rhyme and make it flow and thus make it an easy read. However, poems can be and have been written by many ordinary people. Whether written by famous poets and read by millions or written by a Mom for her loving children or even penned by a lonely soul talking to God out there, poems sizzle with the raw emotions contained in their words. Christmas poems are no different. Hidden in the lines that are all too familiar to those who read it every year are emotions, stories of bygone eras and teaching from ancient times. These provide us with a unique vision of the life at the time the poem was written. Christmas poems have been written over many years, each presenting a unique view of the same occasion, filtered by the norms of those times. Christmas poems have been written in many forms and for many kinds of people who have played a significant role in our society and in our lives. Poems for teachers, for fathers, for mothers, funny poems, melancholy ones and many others have been written by professional and amateur writers alike. Write a poem this season, for someone you love or care for. Or just write one to celebrate the Christmas season. Draw inspiration by reading other poems let your creativity flow. Let your words remain a fond memory for others, for years after you have passed.


The day before Christmas is known as the Christmas Eve. Thus 24th December is the Christmas Eve celebrated all over the world. The midnight mass celebration is conducted on the Christmas Eve. In the Western Christian churches, the Christmas Eve marks the beginning of the Christmas season. The Christmas vigil services are celebrated in the afternoons or the evenings on the Christmas Eve. This service marks the beginning of the Christmas day. All the churches through out the world celebrate the midnight mass. However in the present times due to time restrictions many churches celebrate the services in the late evenings. The catholic churches also organize a candle service on the Christmas Eve. Some churches organize skits depicting the nativity scenes. The protestant churches also organize prayer services on the Christmas Eve. The BBC broadcasts a carol singing all over the world that is a symbol that Christmas celebrations have begun in the UK. On the Christmas Eve the entire family and the relatives gather to enjoy a wonderful dinner along with singing and dancing. There are different specialties prepared on the Christmas Eve in different parts of the world. Preparations of turkey, fish, chicken, salads and other varieties are prepared. It is a popular belief that on the night of the Christmas Eve Santa Claus visits the hoses and stuffs the stockings hung on the fire place with presents. Different parts of the world have different giftgivers. In some places it is the Baby Jesus who gives presents weeks before the Christmas day. In many countries the gifts are opened on the Christmas Eve itself. In US and UK children open their gifts on the Christmas morning. The Christmas tree is set up on this day in most of the families. Some set up their Christmas trees weeks before the Christmas Eve at the time of the thanks giving day. The Christmas Eve is also known as the Good Night in some parts and is celebrated by people enjoying party until midnight. After the party they open the gifts presented to them. The party is a get together of family and friends feasting on delicious meals and dancing and singing in merriment. The food prepared for the celebrations vary with the regions of the world. We can also relish on the desserts prepared from eggs, milk, almonds and honey. The Christmas Eve is a day you spend along with your loved ones enjoying the Christmas season.

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The Exodus Revelation

The Exodus Revelation

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