Hunting the Wren

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Boxing Day, the day after Christmas there used to be a custom called Hunting the Wren, in which boys would go out and kill a small bird, put it on a bier of green branches and carry it house-to-house begging for money for a funeral for the bird. This is pretty weird.

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Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Eve

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While in the modern world we have been deeply involved in the Christmas celebration all month, with a heavy emphasis on giving gifts, decorations, music, and partying, traditionally all that occurred AFTER the 25th during the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany.

In Hungary, a predecessor of the Christmas Tree was the Paradise Tree from pageants and miracle plays, specifically ones about Adam and Eve. A tree was hung with apples to represent the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, other decorations included wafers (thin cookies) representing the Eucharist which stood for redemption; these led to the fruit and cookies on modern trees. Cookies cut into shapes could also symbolize different things. Candles on the tree represented Christ as the light of the world. Another traditional decoration, the Christmas Pyramid, decorated with figures from the Christmas story, candles, and evergreens merged with the paradise tree. The tree was only set up, cut fresh, on Christmas eve, and probably only lighted on Christmas eve.

Also lighted on Christmas Eve was the Yule Log. In many places this was lighted with a piece saved from the Log from the previous year, and they attempted get on large enough to burn through all 12 days of Christmas. Since no work was to be done during the 12 days, there was a great deal of work to get done before they started, and there are many traditions telling of punishment of those who didn’t get their work done before the festivities started.

Feast of Seven Fishes

Until Midnight on Christmas, it was still a fast period, so the Christmas Eve feast usually was fish based, but definitely celebratory- in some places it was a Feast of Seven Fishes. After Mass, dishes included meat and other feast foods. In Poland Wigilia is celebrated with 12 dishes (including desserts). Every culture has its own special foods and traditions.

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Fourth Sunday of Advent

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The 23rd is the last Sunday of Advent, a period of fasting, reflection, and preparation for the Christmas holidays.

On this Sunday the fourth candle in the Advent Wreath (or Crown) is lighted, symbolizing Love. (The first three stand for Hope, Peace, and Joy.) If there is a fifth candle- the Christ candle, it is lighted at the Christmas Eve service.

Aside from the Advent Wreath, there are other traditions some Christians enjoy during advent. Some decorate a Jesse Tree with symbols of the ancestors of Christ (on his human side). Like the advent wreath, this seems to have been a teaching tool. David, was the ancestor most often mentioned, Jesse was his father, Mary and Joseph, Abraham, Moses and Noah may also be represented.

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Full Cold Moon!

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The Full moon in December will be occurring December 23rd. It is called the Full Cold Moon, Black, Death, Crone, or the Long Nights Moon. The Anglo-Saxons called December Ærra Geola, and January Æfterra Geola  before and after Yule. 

Modranecht, or Mothers’ Night was the beginning of the year, which Bede (who preserved what little we know about the heathen calendar) suggested that it was the day they celebrate the birth of our Lord. Scholars suggest that the eponymous Mothers that gave the celebration its name were the Idisi or female ancestral spirits.  While many other moons have several names, basically this one is named because it’s Dark and Cold around the solstice.

But as Shakespere said “There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune” 
and Full Moons mark that time for magick. Not just This year the solstice (another liminal time) takes place as the moon is coming into full, so this will be a great time for spellwork.



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