Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Historian Thomas S. Kidd provides some background and perspective on tomorrow’s holiday in the United States.

And just in case you don’t know, technically we shouldn’t be calling the Pilgrims of the Mayflower “Puritans.” Kidd explains:

The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony weren’t the first Europeans to settle in North America, nor were they the first permanent English colonists. But because of our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, and our hazy images of their 1621 meal with Native Americans, the Pilgrims have become the emblematic colonists in America’s national memory. Although modern Thanksgiving has become largely non-religious—focused more on food, family, and football than explicitly thanking God—the Pilgrims’ experience reveals a compelling religious aspect of our country’s roots.

Although people often refer to the Pilgrims as “Puritans,” they technically were English Separatists, Christians who had decided that the state-sponsored Anglican Church was fatally corrupt, and that they should found their own churches. (The Puritans, who would establish Massachusetts in 1630, believed in reforming the Anglican Church from within.) Establishing independent churches, however, was illegal. Under heavy persecution, some Separatists decided to move to Leiden in the Netherlands around the same time that the Virginia Company founded Jamestown in 1607.

The Netherlands offered the Separatists religious liberty, but the Pilgrims also became concerned about the negative influences of living in such a culturally diverse society. So in 1620, 102 settlers sailed to America on board the Mayflower. Their final Old World port was Plymouth, England, which supplied the name for their new settlement in what became southeastern Massachusetts.

Read the rest of the article here.

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It seems there was a fight this year to include Christmas themed ornaments on this year’s National Christmas Tree. No, really. Children in Arizona were told they could not use religious themes on their ornaments for the tree in Washington D.C. – but one mother didn’t settle for that and got legal help so her child could make Christmas themed ornaments. (Hooray for her!)  Marcia Segelstein, blogging at Worldmag.com on Oct. 2, has the story. (via “related news” sidebar at ADFMedia.org, which has a number of other links.)

Whether the ornaments in question wind up on the tree, I guess we’ll see.

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Yesterday, the pastor sprinkled the sermon with a goodly number of stories, three of which I’d like to share, because I think they’re good food for thought. Recalling things verbatim not being one of my strong suits, and me being in author/editor mode these days, these aren’t exactly what the pastor said, but I hope they’re close enough to bring the messages across.

1. Two men are looking out over the ocean. “Just look at how much water there is!” one man cries. “And that’s only the top!” the other replies. Christmas is like that, the pastor said. (Think about it. Most people only see the top of Christmas, and miss the depth, and thus the magnitude. Yes?)

2. A man went to buy his daughter a birthstone ring, but was dismayed that her birthstone, the opal, looked so pale and dull beside the other gems. The clerk said that the rings had been sitting out a while and were cold. She took the opal ring in her hand and rubbed it for a while, while the man stood there, skeptical, thinking she was only trying a sales ploy she’d been taught to use when potential customers found they didn’t see much in dull old opals. But when she brought the opal out it shone with all the colors of the rainbow, and was to the man’s eyes more beautiful than the other gems. He bought the ring, and his daughter loved it. People can be like opals, the pastor said, in need of a warm human touch to bring out what’s inside. (So get out there and provide the needed warmth and human touch they need.)

3. He attributed this to D.L. Moody: In the old days, when men would see a prairie fire headed toward them, they would burn the grass where they were, and then stand safely in the burned area as the prairie fire swept past them, destroying everything else in its path. Calvary is where a burned spot was made for us to stand in safety. (Hmmm. I’d like to find the whole story, and not the paraphrased version read to us by the pastor. Hang on while I google… Ah, here’s the original.)

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For the last few years, I’ve enjoyed Advent-related goings-on in Bloggityville. (I grew up in, and have lived most of my life in, Advent-free zones. I wish I hadn’t, but there it is.) Sherry at Semicolon has links from a project that’s new to me: an Advent Blog Tour. That many of the participating blogs are clearly hosted by people who like to discuss books makes for icing on the cake, I think…

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Some people are insane about getting stuff for Christmas.

And others focus on Christmas presence.

And some of us are in between, of course.

Update: Giacomo has more on the incident that killed the store employee (referenced in the first link), plus some commentary.

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