This Years Christmas Star – AMAZING!

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I know some have seen the post about The Christmas Star appearing this year on December 21st. A friend couldn’t help but really take a deeper look at how amazing that this occurrence would be happening in the year 2020. The following information about this rare event is not only fascinating…it is also very uplifting and encouraging!

In the year when Jesus was born, there was violence, chaos, political and social unrest. It was dark.

The Magi found him by way of the star, which was the “meeting” of 3 stars: Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. They followed the star until it rested on where he was and they began to worship him. In a time where is was dark, Light was brought in to our world. Jesus stepped in to the chaos and brought peace.

Fast forward to this year, 2020. It’s a time of violence, chaos, political and social unrest. It is dark. Winter Solstice, December 21st, being a time where the day is the shortest and night is the longest…it’s literally the “darkest day” and is the beginning of what most would say the cold, dark winter season.

But on the darkest day this year, Jupiter and Saturn meet, giving us the Christmas Star! How fitting…that in the moment of time during the Christmas season that we get to see this beautiful reminder…that even in the darkest of times…Light will, and has, stepped in. In our chaos He is there. In our darkest time, He is there. He brings Light, and makes all things new.

So as you look out on Dec 21st for the Christmas Star, may we be reminded of His power, and His Light that he brings for all mankind. He is perfect at stepping into chaos and bringing it into peace.

The Story of the Christmas song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

photo of steeple during daytime

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In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow walked out of his family’s house on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and—unbeknownst to his family—boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C., traveling over 400 miles across the eastern seaboard in order to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War.

Charles (b. June 9, 1844) was the oldest of six children born to Fannie Elizabeth Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the celebrated literary critic and poet. Charles had five younger siblings: a brother (aged 17) and three sisters (ages 13, 10, 8—another one had died as an infant).

Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had tragically died after her dress caught on fire. Her husband, awoken from a nap, tried to extinguish the flames as best he could, first with a rug and then his own body, but she had already suffered severe burns. She died the next morning (July 10, 1861), and Henry Longfellow’s facial burns were severe enough that he was unable even to attend his own wife’s funeral. He would grow a beard to hide his burned face and at times feared that he would be sent to an asylum on account of his grief.

When Charley (as he was called) arrived in Washington D.C., he sought to enlist as a private with the 1st Massachusetts Artillery. Captain W. H. McCartney, commander of Battery A, wrote to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for written permission for Charley to become a soldier. HWL (as his son referred to him) granted the permission.

Longfellow later wrote to his friends Charles Sumner (senator from Massachusetts), John Andrew (governor of Massachusetts), and Edward Dalton (medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps) to lobby for his son to become an officer. But Charley had already impressed his fellow soldiers and superiors with his skills, and on March 27, 1863, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, assigned to Company “G.”

After participating on the fringe of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia (April 30-May 6, 1863), Charley fell ill with typhoid fever and was sent home to recover. He rejoined his unit on August 15, 1863, having missed the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863).

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

You can hear the song HERE or You can read the whole poem/song below…

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Article Credit: Justin Taylor, “The Christian Coalition”

Spending Christmas With Jesus This Year

a city built between the mountain and the sea

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The Christmas and Holiday season is one of the most beautiful and exciting times of the year for millions of people around the world. The celebrations, music, parades, and all of the other thrilling festivities are some of the things that make the season so beautiful and heartwarming.

Unfortunately, for an untold number of other people, this time of year can be very sad, miserable, or depressing. The loss of a friend or loved one, or the remembrances of times and people in the past can make this time of year downright depressing. I lost both of my parents during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season…my dad, two weeks before Christmas, and my mom, seven days before Christmas. It seems funny to me how every year, a few weeks before the holiday season, I subconsciously begin to become sad and nostalgic about my parents.

So, it goes without saying, that I recently came across the following poem on a friend’s post called, “I’m Spending Christmas With Jesus Christ This Christmas” (written by Wanda Bencke) that I thought was a unique perspective of someone who has left this earth and is now in heaven with God. The following rhyme is a wonderful and touching piece of writing that I hope with help uplift your heart and touch your soul!

 

“I’m Spending Christmas With Jesus Christ This Year”

I see the countless Christmas trees,

Around the world below.

With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,

Reflecting in the snow.

 

The sight is so spectacular,

Please wipe away that tear.

For I’m spending Christmas,

With Jesus Christ this year.

 

I hear the many Christmas songs,

That people hold so dear.

But the sounds of music can’t compare,

With the Christmas choir up here.

 

For I have no words to tell you,

The joy their voices bring.

For it is beyond description,

To hear the angels sing.

 

I can’t tell you of the splendor,

Or the peace here in this place,

Can you just imagine Christmas,

With Jesus, face to face?

 

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,

As I tell Him of your love.

So then pray one for another,

As I lift you eyes above.

 

Please let your hearts be joyful,

And let your spirits sing.

For I’m spending Christmas in Heaven,

And I am walking with the King!

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” Explained

Nativity

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Millions of people know the vintage Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It is one of the most well-known and beloved songs of the holiday season. But, do you know what each item in the song represents? Well…good news! Today you are going to discover what each “Day” represents. I think that you will find the following read VERY interesting!

Day 1: “The partridge in a pear tree” is Jesus Christ

Day 2: “Two turtle doves” are the Old and New Testaments

Day 3: “Three French Hens” stand for Faith, Hope, and Charity

Day 4: “Four Calling Birds” are the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark Luke, and John

Day 5: “Five Golden Rings” recall the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old testament.

Day 6: “Six Geese A-Laying” stand for the six days of creation

Day 7: “Seven Swans Are Swimming” represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy

Day 8: “Eight Maids A-Milking” are the eight Beatitudes

Day 9: “Nine Ladies Dancing” are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control

Day 10: “Ten Lords Are Leaping” are the Ten Commandments

Day 11: “Eleven Pipers Piping” stand for the eleven faithful disciples

Day 12: “Twelve Drummers Drumming” symbolizes the twelve points in the Apostle’s Creed.

So, there is your history lesson for today! 🙂

Chuckles for Christmas

man in santa claus costume

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The Holiday Season can be a time of great stress and make people anxious as they rush around stores, malls, etc., to find gifts and presents for the family, friends, and loved ones. Whether it be preparing dinners, snacks or great feasts, getting ready for the relatives, the list goes on and on.  After a while, it can simply become overwhelming.

Well, today, I have good news for you! I collected a few quips about the Holiday Season that, I hope, will bring a smile to your face, gladness in your heart, and a giggle or two, to help brighten your day.

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“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.” – Victor Borge

 

“For Christmas this year, try giving less. Start with less attitude. There’s more than enough of that in the world as it is – and people will usually just give it back anyway!” – Anne Bristow

 

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.” – Shirley Temple

 

“The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” – Joan Rivers

 

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup; Peace on earth, goodwill to men, and make them do the washing up.” – Wendy Cope

 

“It’s all fun and games until Santa checks the Naughty List”. – Anon

 

“Christmas: the only time of year that you can sit in front of a dead tree eating candy from socks”. – Anonymous

 

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.” – Unknown

 

“Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.” – Unknown

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men”. – Jay leno

 

“I set a personal record on Christmas. I got my shopping done three weeks ahead of time. I had all the presents back at my apartment, I was halfway through wrapping them, and I realized, ‘I used the wrong wrapping paper.’ The paper I used said, ‘Happy Birthday.’ I didn’t want to waste it, so I just wrote ‘Jesus’ on it.” – Demetri Martin

 

“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” – Unknown

 

“Christmas is a magical time of year… I just watched all my money magically disappear.” – Unknown

 

“Even before Christmas has said Hello, it’s saying ‘Buy Buy’.” – Robert Paul

 

“Anyone who believes that men are the equal of women has never seen a man trying to wrap a Christmas present.” – Unknown

 

“You know you are getting old, when Santa starts looking younger”. – Bart Simpson

 

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly”. – Andy Rooney

 

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall”. – Larry Wilde

 

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. But if the white runs out I’ll drink the red”.  – Unknown

 

“Three Wise WOMEN would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, bought practical gifts, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and there would be peace on earth”!

– Anonymous

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“At Christmas, all roads lead home”. – Marjorie Holmes

Worldwide Traditions of Christmas

brown and red pinecone christmas decoration

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We as Americans know the customs of Christmas here in the United States…but have you ever wondered what some of the traditions of Christmas are like in other parts of the world? Well, sit back and discover some short, interesting facts, how other people from around the globe celebrate Christmas. 

Belgian

The children there believe it is kindly Saint Nicholas who brings them their presents. They also believe he rides a horse so they leave him hay and carrots and water for the horse just outside the house on December 6.

Canada/U.S.

Christmas trees are decorated and stockings are hung on the fireplace for Santa Claus to fill with gifts. Cards and gifts are exchanged with friends and relatives. Children put on pageants and go caroling.

China

The Christians in China light their homes with beautiful paper lanterns. Santa is called Dun Che Lao Ren. The children hang stockings just as we do.

Czechs

They serve a very large and delicious dinner with many courses. Courses are like a appetizer, followed by soup, then a salad, then maybe the first meat dishes, and so on till the dessert is served. They serve this meal on Christmas Eve and it does not matter how big the family is, there is always a place set at the table that is set for the Christ Child.

Denmark

Santa is known as Julemanden and he arrives in a sleigh pulled by reindeer with a sack full of gifts. Danish children know the elves as Juul Nisse, and believe that they live in the attics of their homes. Instead of cookies and glasses of milk, they leave rice pudding and saucers of milk out for them.

England

From England we have acquired several customs. The first is the use of Christmas trees. This was made popular during the rein of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Prince Albert came from the country of Germany and missed his native practice of bringing in trees to place on the tables in the house, therefore one Christmas the royal couple brought a tree inside the Palace and decorated it with apples and other pretty items.

The second custom is what is known as Boxing Day. It is celebrated the first weekday after Christmas. What this means is that small wrapped boxes with food and sweets, or small gifts, or coins are given to anyone who comes calling that day.

Santa is known as Father Christmas, wearing long red robes and had sprigs of holly in his hair. Instead of mailing out their christmas list, children throw it into the fireplace and Father Christmas reads the smoke. England is also where the tradition of hanging stockings by the chimney began, due to the fact that Father Christmas once accidentally dropped some gold coins on his way down the chimney which got caught in a drying stocking. Another interesting thing is that instead of opening up their gifts as soon as they wake up, English children wait until the afternoon.

France

Santa is known as Pere Noel. He is accompanied by Pre Fouettard who keep track of who has been good or bad for Pere Noel. In some parts of France, Pere Noel brings small gifts in the beginning of December (Dec 6) and comes back to deliver more on Christmas. In France the children get to open their gifts on Christmas, but the parents and other adults have to wait until New Years. In France the children place there shoes by the fire place in hopes that le Pere Noel/Father Christmas of le Petit Jesus/Little Jesus will place gifts for them. They also have dinner at midnight on December 24 this is called Le Reveillon. They have a cake called La Buche de Noel that is served after the dinner.

Tiny clay figures are used in the Christmas Crèches, Mangers. These figures are most unique as they are dressed in what is popular in provincial clothing that year. The figures are Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Wise Men, the Shepherds, and Angels.

Italy

It Italy, the main exchange of gift doesn’t occur until January 6th, the day traditionally believed that the Wise Men reached the baby Jesus. Italy has La Befana who brings gifts to for the good and punishment for the bad. She is the same character as Russia’s Babouschka who refused to give the Wise Men food and shelter. The nativity scene may have first been set up by Saint Francis of Assisi. This first one was set up in a cave outside of a village and the villagers were so impressed by the display that now many of the communities compete for the best nativity.

India

Houses are decorated with strings of mango leaves. Lights are place on the window sills and walls and a star is hung outside. A sweet holiday treat is made called thali and it is brought to neighbors and friends.

Japan

The Japanese decorate their stores and homes with greens. The only part of Christmas that they celebrate is the giving of gifts. HOTEIOSHA the priest is like our Santa Claus, and he brings the children their presents.

Mexico

Mexico calls Christmas Navidad. They celebrate Christmas for nine days with Las Pasdas. It is a time where people dress as Mary and Joseph, traveling from house to house asking if Mary may stay the night. They are told the is full. After which the door opens back up and all are invited in for a party with food, songs, and for the children a Pinata. The Pinata is made of paper mache and filled with all kinds of goodies. The object is to break it open with your eyes blindfolded. After which the children all dive for all the goodies they can pick up. On the ninth night they are told yes there is room for Mary in the stable and all come in for food and after all go to Church to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.

The Netherlands

Santa is known as Sinterklaas, and he came to Sweden originally by boat, setting out on December 6th from Spain. He makes his gift deliveries by horseback. The children leave their shoes out, filled with hay and sugar for Sinterklaas’ horse. In the morning they find their shoes filled with candy and nuts. When Sinterklaas appears to the children, he takes the form of their father or a favorite male relative.

North Pole

Santa and his helpers are getting ready to deliver gifts to the children of the world.

Poland

From Christmas to New Years the streets are lined with lovely stalls called, JOSELKI, each one is carefully painted with scenes from the Christmas story. The booths are elaborately decorated in tinsel and lighted candles.

Spain

The children of Spain leave their shoes on the windowsills filled with straw, carrots, and barley for the horses of the Wise Men, who they believe reenact their journey to Bethlehem every year. One of the wise men is called Balthazar, who leaves the children gifts. They call Christmas Eve Nochebuena, and families gather together to rejoice and share a meal around the Nativity scene.

Russia

Russia has someone named Babouschka, who would bring gifts for the children. The tradition says that she failed to give food and shelter to the three wise men and so she now searches the countryside searching for the baby Jesus, visiting all children giving gifts as she goes. Santa was known as Saint Nicholas but today is called Grandfather Frost, wearing a blue outfit instead of red.

The Russians use to celebrate Christmas with great joy and happiness before the Revaluation of 1917. They used to stroll up and down the streets with stars on the end of sticks that they called Stars of Bethlehem. The people went to church services and shared a special meal at home. After the Revaluation the Soviet Government banned Christmas. What the Russians do today is celebrate New Years Day with a special tree decorated like we do ours for Christmas and they have a New Years Day Children’s party. The children join hands and sing songs as they walk around the tree. They wait for DYET MOROZ Grandfather Frost, and his helper SYYEGORACHKA The Snow Maiden to bring them their gifts.

Switzerland

Santa Claus is called CHRISTKIND, the Christ Child coming to bring gifts to the children dressed in all white with a golden crown, He is helped by Saint Nicholas.

Uruguay and Argentina (Added From Blogger Amira)

In Uruguay and Argentina, children wait for January 6 to receive the big gifts that are brought by the 3 wise Magi : Balthazar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar of India. Children leave their shoes outside and a bucket of water and hay for the camels. One of the 3 Magi usually leaves a handwritten personalized letter sealed with red wax, telling the children about how they behaved during the year. On Christmas Eve a dinner is shared with family and friends, and smaller gifts are left under the tree by Papa Noel. Usually a Nativity set is also placed near the Christmas tree, and the baby Jesus is added to the Nativity set on Christmas day.Special sweets are made for Christmas like “turron” ( a nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake), and “Pan Dulce” or “Sweet bread” which is made with nuts and dry fruits.
Some people go to the midnight mass. There are fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve as well as in New Year’s eve. Feliz Navidad & Merry Christmas to all! Amira

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What is your favorite Christmas or Holiday tradition? Do you know of a tradition from another country that wasn’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts with us if you would like!

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Have an AWESOME Christmas and Holiday Season!

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Source: portharbor.com