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Welcome to Lamb Cottage. It's a real place, and this is where I live with my dear husband. We even have lambs. This is a personal blog, especially concerning life as an American expat in Scotland, life as an over-50, life with lambs, and life as an Orthodox Christian. You're most welcome to come and visit awhile. I hope we can be friends!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Twelfth Night


It is the last day of Christmas. Tomorrow is Epiphany, or Theophany, depending on your tradition. We will be rushing to take down all of our (many) Christmas decorations and laying them away until next year. It seems both a sad and a hopeful time. In the Orthodox Church, the calendar of the Church Year marches along, and wonderfully, you don't really have time to brood over the ending of the festivities. Something else amazing will be right on its heels!

This year, we will be able to attend a Great Blessing of the Waters service on the 7th, which is also the Feast Day of St John the Baptist and Forerunner (who is also my husband's patron saint, and therefore, his nameday). It will be a wonderful celebration combining Theophany -- the Baptism of Our Lord and the revealing of who He is -- with the Great Blessing of the Waters and the Feast Day. So much it is almost overwhelming!

As we say goodbye to Christmas, prepare for Theophany, and even think not-that-far-ahead to Great Lent, I thought I would post about the 12 Days of Christmas and the song that accompanies them. I heard someone the other day say that the song was annoying. This saddens me. This song is an example of how we can use all kinds of things in God's creation to remember and remind us who we are (God's grandest creation) and why we're here (to commune with and worship God). Some say that the song is catechetical and was written thus to help people learn the Truth of Christian doctrine. Of course, lots of people (secular, mostly) say this is nonsense. I believe it is not nonsense, but true. The older I get, the more I realize and know in my heart that the most important things are not those which can be "proved" with "evidence". They are those which can be known in one's heart.

So, here is what is said about the 12 Days of Christmas, and what I believe:
  • The Partridge in a Pear Tree = Jesus Christ the Son of God
  • Two Turtle Doves = the Old and the New Testaments
  • Three French Hens = the Three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love (Charity) [1 Corinthians 13:13]
  • Four Calling Birds = the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
  • Five Gold Rings = the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Old Testament, or books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • Six Geese a-Laying = the six days of Creation
  • Seven Swans a-Swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion)
  • Eight Maids a-Milking = the eight Beatitudes (see Matthew 5 - "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, etc.)
  • Nine Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness [generosity], faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)
  • Ten Lords a-Leaping = the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20)
  • Eleven Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful Apostles (Andrew, Simon Peter, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James [aka Thaddeus])
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed (1: One God, 2: Jesus Christ, God's only-begotten Son, 3: Virgin birth, 4: Crucifixion, 5: Resurrection and Ascension, 6: Second Coming and Judgment, 7: the Holy Spirit, 8: the holy Catholic Church, 9: the Communion of Saints, 10: the Forgiveness of Sins, 11: the Resurrection of the body, and 12: Eternal Life)
And there you have it! There is much more that can be said about the Christmas Season and its twelve days. Also, about Twelfth Night and various traditions. King Cakes, and all that! And about Epiphany. But, that will have to come another time.

I hope you have all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas / Nativity Season. May you have a glorious Epiphany / Theophany and a wonderful 2017!

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