Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Practicing for Performances & Christmas Shopping - Countdown to Christmas - Day 18

Christmas is exactly one week away! It's hard to believe it's already the 18th day on the Countdown to Christmas. Here's what we did today:


Sophia and Olivia went with their friend Mary to Stillwater. They went shopping, visited the bookstore, and had a treat at Dairy Queen.

In the evening, Sophia had her violin lesson; and both girls had choir practice in preparation for their performances on December 22nd and December 24th.


Advent Reading

Luke 2:13-14 - Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!”


Christmas Joke

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

Snowman with Green Hat - Christmas Ornament
Snowman ornament I made back in 2008.



Christmas Fact

Today we learned why gift giving is associated with Christmas:

In some ways, the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is a very ancient tradition. In other ways, giving gifts at Christmas is a relatively new development, as well.

In the Christian religion, the practice of giving gifts at Christmas is traced back to the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that were given to the Christ child by the three Magi. The magi were kings from the East, wise men who traveled a great distance following a star, to find the Christ child and to bring him gifts.

King Mold
King mold at a museum in Pella, Iowa.

The visit of the Magi to the Christ child was originally celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Over time, the tradition of giving gifts came to be more associated with Christmas than with Epiphany. It is the time from Christmas to Epiphany in the Church calendar – from December 25th through January 6th – that is recognized as the “twelve days of Christmas” from the old Christmas carol.

Various countries and peoples began to make gift-giving a regular part of the holy day (or “holiday”) over a period of time. By the time the Americas were settled, giving gifts at Christmas was practiced by many of the settlers. The early Dutch settlers to America introduced St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, to the new world. The early French and English settlers, in contrast, were more likely to give gifts at New Year’s or at Epiphany.

Olivia with Christmas Stocking
Olivia in 2007 by her stocking filled with presents.

Ultimately, a common Christmas culture developed in which gifts were given on Christmas. In the nineteenth century, the idea of gift giving took on new dimensions, as the works of O. Henry, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Nast all helped to shape our concepts of Santa Claus and other aspects of the holiday.

Wrapping Presents
Christmas presents wrapped in fabric bags in 2010.

Today, we all give gifts at Christmas for our own reasons. For some, it is a way to celebrate the Christian holy day. For others, it is a special time to let family and friends know that you care by giving gifts.

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