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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Days of Winter Magic

Deck the Halls - artwork by Yvonne Gilbert

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la,
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa-la la-la la la la,
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol,
Fa la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing yule before us,
Fa la la la la , la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus,
Fa la la la la , la la la la.
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa-la la-la la la la,
While I tell of Yuletide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sing we joyous all together,
Fa-la la-la la la,
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.        

December 6th - Saint Nicholas' Day

St Nicholas - artwork by Michael Hague

When the old gods ruled the world, Odin the All-father rode the skies of Germany and Scandinavia in winter with a crowd of elves and spirits; those mortals who offered him reverence were rewarded with gifts.  In later years Odin's horse, elves and gifts became the accouterments of a Christian saint named Nicholas.

Nicholas lived in Asia Minor.  Because he calmed storms at sea during his life, he became the patron of sailors, and because he restored life to three murdered youths, he became the patron of boys.  But the most famous tale concerning him was that of three maidens whose impoverished father planned to sell into slavery.  Nicholas redeemed them with three bags of dowry gold, which he flung down their chimney one night .  It landed on their shoes set to warm before the fire.  For this deed he became the patron of maidens, and Frenchwomen prayed to him for husbands.

He also became the patron of pawnbrokers, and his bags of gold are remembered in the three golden balls that are the sign of the trade.  But gift giving was his most important act.  In Germany, Austria and Holland, children set out their shoes on the eve of his feast day (6 December), filling them with hay and carrots for his white horse, just as provender had been left for Odin's horse by their ancestors.  Nicolas, they knew, would ride over the rooftops in the night with his elvish companion, Knecht Ruprecht.  Ruprecht carried a switch to use on naughty young ones.  But Nicholas carried baskets of toys and sweets, to be left in the shoes of all good children.

Russia - The Snow Maiden  

Victor Vasnetsov (1899) - Tretyakov Gallery

A Russian tale tells how a couple shaped a maiden from the snows of the cold season.  She came to life and spent her days among mortals, but those days were brief.  The sun of Springtime melted her to mist.

All taken from The Enchanted World - The Book of Christmas - Brendan Lehane / Time Life Books
Published 1986.


Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This book sounds delightful! I love learning about holiday traditions in different places and how some traditions came to pass. The pictures are beautiful! My mom's name is Holly- so I think of her whenever I hear the song (although she says kids used to sing it to her all the time and it isn't her favorite song). I loved seeing the words.

Being of Swedish heritage- I loved learning more about December 6th. I was always in the St. Lucia pageant growing up- bringing light to the dark days. :)

Wishing you a happy winter

ArtSings1946 said...

Such a wonderful and magical post ... I love, love, love all the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Love and Light,

Darlene Foster said...

I love learning about all of the different Christmas legends. Thanks for sharing these. The pictures are delightfull. XO

Donna Yates said...

What a lovely post! And you know, I've never heard of St Nicholas day.

CraveCute said...

Magical!Love these images!


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