by Mary Jo
Christmas has many kinds of celebrations, from watching one of the many versions of A Christmas Carol to feasting with family and friends to crazed shopping, but at heart, it has always been a religious holiday. Christ's Mass = Christmas. Many, many people go to services: Children's services, candlelight services, midnight masses. I saw a news story that in Belgium, on Christmas Eve school children put lighted candles on the graves of over a thousand Canadian soldiers who died in the liberation of Belgium in World War II.
I love this image from thegraphicsfairy.com which shows people leaving an English village church after a Regency winter service. (I've written such scenes a time or two.) I love visiting places of worship to feel the spirit and admire beautiful craftsmanship.
Long ago, when I lived in Oxford, I several times made brass rubbings at New College Chapel. Few churches allow rubbings any more because over time it damages the brass memorial plates, but even though it was hard on the knees, I cherish those memories, and never more than when the choir or an organist was practicing. Magnificent!
The origin of the word holiday is "holy day." There are other religious holidays of many faith traditions in December and January, and all of them give us the opportunity to pause, reflect, and rejoice.