Thursday, January 5, 2017

Twelfth Day


Catholics hold that Christmastide begins at sunset on Christmas Eve, and ends on Epiphany Eve (also known as Twelfth Night). They have this in common with most other Christian denominations.

January 5, then, is the twelfth day of Christmas. The Feast of the Epiphany used to be celebrated on January 6, but became a moveable feast years ago. Catholics here in the United States celebrate the feast on the first Sunday after January 1, which this year falls on January 8.

"Say, didn't that Shakespeare fellow write a play celebrating this date?"

Yes, yes he did...

Feast Day

Statue in St. Peter the Apostle Church, Philadelphia
Today we celebrate the feast of
St. John Neumann, the first American bishop and as of now the only male U.S. citizen to achieve sainthood.

A member of the Redemptorist order, Neumann became the bishop of Philadelphia in 1852, and under his guidance the first diocesan school system was established, eventually operating more than 200 schools throughout the archdiocese.

He was beatified on October 13, 1963 by Pope Paul VI, who also canonized him on June 19, 1977.

St. John Neumann is the patron of Catholic education.

I'm Not Bitter...

...but the weather here in the Bluffs certainly has been recently. This morning when I woke up, for instance, the temperature was just
6 degrees with a wind chill of -10, and there had been a light dusting of snow overnight.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder, so it's a good thing I don't need anything from the store...

"So you didn't forget anything the last time you went grocery shopping? Shocker."

Miserable weather seems to improve my concentration when I'm shopping...

Call It a Hunch

From the insightful pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

The holiday carol which most explicitly celebrates Christmastide itself is, of course,
"The Twelve Days of Christmas," a whimsical song first published in English in 1780 but undoubtedly much older than that, and possibly French in origin. I was singing this song (or trying to, anyway) before I ever set foot in a school. It has been recorded hundreds of times, in both vocal and instrumental versions, and is one of the most familiar of all Christmas melodies.

Poster illustrating the song's lyrics
The song's lyrics describe a series of progressively finer gifts given to the singer by her "true love" to celebrate the twelve days of Christmastide, although through the years there have been many variations in the gifts themselves.

In America, at least, the 1909 version by English composer Frederic Austin has become the standard form of the song, although of course composers continue to create new arrangements based on it.

Today's send-off is a tongue-in-cheek performance of the song by the United States Navy Band's Singing Sideboys vocal group, using an arrangement composed by music teacher Richard Gregory while he was serving in the Navy in the 1950s. Their performance was filmed at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in December 2013. Enjoy...

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