make ready o bethlehem

Ok. I can now officially start gearing up for Christmas. Thanksgiving is over, the last traces of pumpkin pie and cranberry Jell-o have disappeared and Christmas trees are appearing in department stores and local windows. In the Orthodox Church, the Advent fast has begun, and we'll eat no meat, dairy or poultry until Christmas day. Also, Wednesday evening Paraklesis services have begun. These candlelit services are solemn but also bursting with anticipation as we chant hymns that explain church traditions surrounding Christmas, and sing as if we are rejoicing with the angles and shepherds, awaiting the birth of Christ:

“Make ready, O Bethlehem;

for Eden hath been opened for all.

Prepare, O Ephratha;

for the Tree of life hath blossomed forth

in the cave from the Virgin;

for her womb did appear

as a super-sensual paradise,

in which is planted the Divine Plant,

whereof eating we shall live and not die as did Adam.

Verily, Christ shall be born,

raising the likeness that fell of old.”


JR's Thumbprints said...

Your Christmas traditions seem much more normal than mine. My dad used to chain Santa to the tree in our front yard.

Annika Rose said...

hi greta, well i hope you had a great time visiting your family. how is school and everything? i think college sounds really fun because there always seems to be cool stuff going on.

well i was just wondering how come you don't eat meat dairy or poultry? i have never been to a church so i don't know how these things work.

Greta said...

jr's thumbprints >

Wow, that tradition definitely sounds "different". :) Yes, our holidays are pretty low-key. A lot of time hanging out with family and not a lot of decorations.

annika >

Yeah, I did have a good break. It was nice to be home...but also nice to be back at school because, yes, there is always something going on!

About not eating certain foods before Christmas, here is the best explanation I know. We believe that Jesus was very humble by becoming actually human so he could experience everything we do when he didn't have to do that at all, since he's also God. And as a human, he died for us so that we know we can have an eternal life, and that our sins are forgiven. The way I see it, since Jesus gave up his place in heaven, and eventually gave up his life, we can give up some of the things we like to eat for a while...it reminds us of what Jesus did, and doesn't sound so bad compared to death, if you ask me :). Not all churches do this, but the Orthodox church does. We also do this before Easter, and every Wednesday and Friday.

Well, that's a really long explanation, but hopefully it makes a little more sense now. :)