It is December 1st! Can you believe it? In honor of this day I decided to put on my ugly Christmas sweater and wear it to work. Actually, in my opinion, it’s not really all that ugly. Yes, there’s a big picture of Santa on the front, and there’s a fluff ball on the end of his hat, and he has black button eyes, but it’s not truly an ugly sweater. A little tacky perhaps, but not ugly. It’s festive though, and that’s exactly what this 1st day of the last month of the year needs, don’t you think?
Verse of the Day
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
Reassurance beyond understanding! That’s the beginning of the Christ story for Joseph. What he cannot understand and what he had no part in creating, will now be the groundbreaking journey of his own faithful and generous heart. He will be the human daddy to the Savior of the world. He will live the rest of his life knowing that a miracle happened with Mary without his input or involvement. His faith, and God’s use of him in this story, should awaken each of us to the incredible possibilities that God may have in store for us. Why not use this December to re-awaken your heart to the Holy One, born Jesus of Nazareth.
Why do we put up Christmas trees? Where does the tradition come from and does it tie in to the birth of Christ? Well, I looked up several sources and this is what I found out: The fir tree has long been associated with Christianity, beginning in Germany almost 1,000 years ago with St. Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity. It is said that he came across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree, and in his anger he cut the oak down. To his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree, and he took this as a sign of the Christian faith. That was the very beginning of the Christmas tree, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.
The Christmas tree has even older history than that though! King Tut never saw a Christmas tree, but he would have understood the tradition that traces back to long before the first Christmas. The Egyptians, like many other cultures, treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice came they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life triumphing over death. The Romans also celebrated with greens – with a winter solstice festival called Saturnalia – in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their homes with greens and lights, exchanging gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness and lamps to light one’s way through life. In Great Britain centuries ago there were woods priests called Druids who used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. They used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life and placed evergreen branches over doors to keep the evil spirits away. Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes, or just outside their doors, to show that they were hoping for the upcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree is an evolution from these early traditions. According to legend Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. In about the year 1500, one crisp Christmas Eve, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was quite taken with the beauty of a small group of evergreens that were dusted with snow and shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story and the beauty with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lit in honor of Christ’s birth. The Christmas tree tradition likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with the German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio. The custom spread slowly though. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England and even as late as 1851 there was a Cleveland minister who just about lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870 and even sometimes expelled students who stayed home that day! In 1851 a Catskill farmer hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City, and sold them all, starting the Christmas tree market. By 1900, one in five American families had Christmas trees, and 20 years later the custom was nearly universal.
With all of that history though – I’ve barely scratched the surface – what it comes down to is that the Christmas tree is enjoyed as a holiday decoration by people of many cultures and religions. To Christians it is a promise of renewed life during a barren season, symbolizing Christ’s birth, resurrection and promise of eternal life.
Food for Thought
Civil Air Patrol Day -The Civil Air Patrol is a volunteer organization that is a Congressionally chartered, federally supported non-profit that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. People from all backgrounds, lifestyles and occupations are part of the Civil Air Patrol, and they perform three key missions. Emergency services, which include search and rescue by both air and ground, disaster relief operations, and aerospace education for youth and the general public. One of their major programs is the cadet program for youth ranging from 12 to just under 21 years old, with their senior members being 18 years old and up. This is a wonderful education program that teaches responsibility, community outreach, discipline and dedication.
National Christmas Tree Lighting -Since 1923 the United States has had a traditional lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington DC. A live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce was transplanted from York, PA to its present site on the Ellipse, the grassy area south of the White House, in 1978. In 1954 there were 56 smaller, decorated trees planted surrounding the National Christmas tree, representing all 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. Each year organizations sponsoring their own states provide ornaments for their tree, each one encased in a protective plastic globe that protects I from the weather. The decorations are unique each year and visitors from all over the world come out to see the displays and the live performances held throughout the Christmas season.
Rosa Parks Day -On December 1st 1955, Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law that required all black passengers to give up their seat to white passengers when the bus was full. Black passengers were also required to sit at the back of the bus. When she was arrested, a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system was done, which led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation. I cannot imagine life during those times, and know that people like Rosa Parks helped pave the way for the lines between the races to be erased. It is so sad that all these years later the lines have been drawn again, with the relationship between the races worse than it has been in decades.
This Day in History –
1887 – Sherlock Holmes appeared for the first time in print in “A Study in Scarlet.” (1887)
1955 – In Montgomery, Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to give up her seat in the front section of the bus.
Food Celebration of the Day –
Eat a Red Apple Day –The phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” was coined at the 1904 World’s Fair by J.T. Stinson in an effort to promote apples as a healthy snack. I love apples. I’m sure most of us do. We all know how good they are for us, they are delicious and the combination of tasty and healthy is one we can all get behind. There are thousands of apples grown all over the planet, so there are tasty choices so we can all find a type that appeals most to us. My personal favorites are Honey Crisp and Cameo. YUM! Did you know that the science of growing apples is called “pomology”?
National Fried Pie Day – Here’s a recipe I found on www.cook.com for fried fruit pies. Give them a try!
- Fried pies are small fried dessert pastries, which have fruit fillings wrapped in the dough.
- Fried apple pies were first introduced in McDonald’s in 1968, originally fried in lard.
- New Hampshire fried pies (blue berry or blackberry flavored variations) were the favorite dessert of S. president Franklin Pierce.
- The two most popular flavors of fried pies in the deep South are apple and peach.
- Roadside stands in the South often refer to fried pies as “Crab Lanterns”.
Let’s make this an awesome 1st day of the month, maybe by doing something festive! And let’s make this an awesome last day of the work week – at least for those of us who get weekends off. Sound like a good plan? I thought so! God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.