Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Christmas: It's Officially Over



Because it's Candlemas Day today, i.e., the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord or the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady depending on your calendar.

And Candlemas Day is the very last day of the Christmas season. Vide Robert Herrick:

End now the White Loafe and the Pye,
And let all sports with Christmas dye. . .


And you'd better get all those Christmas decorations stored away and the Christmas greenery burnt as that industrious family is doing in the illustration. Very bad mojo to have them hanging about after Candlemas Day. Vide Mr Herrick again:

Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith ye deck's the Christmas hall;
That so the superstitious find
Not one least branch there left behind:
For look! How many leaves there be
Neglected there, Maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.


But keep a bit of the Yule log:

Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunne-set let it burne;
Which quencht, then lay it up agen,
Till Christmas next returne.
Part must be kept wherewith to teend
The Christmas Log next yeare;
And where ‘tis safely kept, the Fiend
Can do no mischiefe there.


We, however, won't see any goblins because we put away the Christmas garniture last week. Why so early, I hear you ask. Candlemas, indeed, only arrives today. But last Sunday was Septuagesima Sunday. At first Vespers on Saturday evening we bid farewell to the Alleluia, which will be heard no more until the Easter Vigil. In the traditional Roman Rite, that is. In the Pauline Rite, alas, one never knows what one is liable to hear. And, of course, the poor old Pauline Rite, stripped of so much of its finery, doesn't even have Septuagesimatide. They just saunter along happily alleluiaing and ordinary timing when all of a sudden POW! Drop that ham sandwich: it's Lent. Move those bangs and make room for some ashes.

The traditional Roman Rite likes to ease into these things. Those purple vestments give you some warning and you can do a little preparation.

If you were relying on The Inn for that warning, though, well, ahem. You got two days fewer warning than you were entitled to. There weren't any postings here on Septuagesima Sunday at all. Or on the Saturday before. In fact, we've missed a lot of important events.

Yesterday, for instance, was not only my grandmother's birthday - were she alive, she'd be 131 years of age - it was also the feast of St Bridget of Kildare, one of the patrons of Ireland. And before that Septuagesima Sunday. And the day before that the anniversary of the judicial murder of King Charles I. And on January 19, the birthday of General Robert E Lee, C.S.A. In fact, January is full of birthdays of notable southern gentry: 21 January - General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, 28 January - General George Pickett, and 6 January General James Longstreet. We have been very remiss indeed. We'd promise to do better but we don't trust us enough for that.