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piyChristmas is one of the most important Christian holidays. Catholics, who live mainly in Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia, celebrate it on December 25. Christmas is the most important Catholic holiday revolving around the story of how the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, the son of God.
Christmas is preceded by Advent (which lasts between three and four weeks).

christmas_candle (2)Advent is a time of strenuous repentance when the faithful go to confession and the clergy don purple robes, the color of repentance.
Each of the church services on the four Advent Sundays have a theme drawn from Evangelical readings: the first is devoted to the coming of Christ at the end of time; the second and third are about transition from the Old to the New Testament, with the third Sunday recalling the mission of John the Baptist; the fourth is devoted to the Gospel events leading up to Christmas.

The Catholic Christmas Eve Mass usually begins at midnight. The hymns sung during the mass are very solemn. By tradition, the priest leading the mass puts the figure of the Christ child in the crib. During the night, at dawn and during the day of December 25 three more special liturgies are celebrated (the bosom of the Father, the loins of the Mother of God and the souls of the believers).

p097Christmas is celebrated throughout the Christmas Octave, the eight days from December 25 through January 1. The second day of the festival, December 26, is devoted to St. Stephen, the First Martyr; the third, to apostle and evangelist John the Baptist (on that day wine is consecrated); the fourth day is devoted to the memory of the Holy Infants of Bethlehem (on that day priests offer special blessings to children).
Sunday, which falls on one of the days between December 26 and 31, or, if none of the days is a Sunday in a particular year, December 30 marks the feast of the Holy Family: the Christ child, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. January 1 marks the joy of the Holy Virgin. Christmas tide continues beyond the Octave until the Baptism of Christ, which in the Roman Catholic calendar is marked on the first Sunday after Epiphany (January 6). Throughout the Christmas holidays the clergy are clad in festive white robes.

 

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Traditions
The Christmas tradition of decorating Christmas trees can be traced back to Germanic peoples in whose rituals the evergreen fir tree was the symbol of life and fertility. As Christianity spread among the peoples of Central and Northern Europe, the Christmas tree decorated with colored balls acquired a new symbolic meaning: it was put up in homes on December 24, which in Western tradition is Adam and Eve day, to symbolize the tree in the Garden of Eden.
In the context of Christmas, the fir tree symbolizes the tree of the Garden of Eden and the eternal life man acquires through the New Adam, Jesus Christ.

8j6The Gospel narrative of the three Wise Men who came to prostrate themselves before the Christ child and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh gave rise to the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas. Traditionally the family sits down to a Christmas dinner, with the festive food differing from country to country. In England, the traditional Christmas meal is roast turkey with gooseberry sauce and Christmas pudding sprinkled with brandy, set on fire and served with the flame flickering.

jaslice001bozic (1)In the U.S., the Christmas turkey is served with cranberry sauce. In Denmark, they eat a goose or duck stuffed with apples, rice pudding and sweet rice with cinnamon and raisins. In Ireland, they cook turkey or ham, in Greece turkey in wine, and in Lithuania and Germany a roast goose.
Germans put a big plate with apples, nuts, raisins and marzipans on the Christmas table. In China, where a considerable number of Christians reside, the famous Peking Duck is served for Christmas, the favorite dish of Chinese Emperors.
By contrast, festive dinners in Austria, Hungary and the Balkan countries do not feature goose, duck, chicken or turkey. Eating birds on that day is a bad omen because your fortune may fly away with the birds. The Belgians eat veal sausage with truffles, wild boar, a traditional cake, and wash it down with wine. In The Netherlands, they have rabbit, deer or other game, and in Luxembourg they eat black pudding, apples and local bubbly. Italians prefer fish or seafood, tortellini and champagne.
In Spain, they serve a suckling pig roasted on a spit accompanied with sherry. Every Spanish table is sure to be laden with seafood, shrimp, crab, crayfish and Christmas sweets including halva, marzipans and aniseed lozenges. The Scandinavians start preparations for Christmas long in advance. Two weeks before the holiday, they slaughter Christmas piglets, make black pudding, and salt and smoke the meat. Finally, they brew beer, a process that goes on non-stop from dawn to dusk for three or four days.

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The Catholic Church has designated the four weeks preceding Christmas as Advent, a time to “prepare the way of the Lord” for His coming as our King and Savior. In addition, the Church teaches that:

[w]hen the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating [John the Baptist’s] birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Catechism, no. 524; original emphasis).

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.

 

4 adventAdvent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child, but in the midst of the pre-Christmas frenzy, it’s easy to lose sight of the profound spiritual importance of the Advent season. Your greatest temptation during Advent will be scrimping on your spiritual needs because there are so many other things going on!

There are presents to make or buy, cookies to bake, cards to mail, parties to plan, gifts to wrap and trees to decorate. Even your parish can put demands on your time with choir practices, pageant rehearsals, candy sales, food collections for the poor and Advent evenings of reflection. 

There’s nothing wrong with pre-Christmas preparations. But it’s important to balance the sacred part of the Advent season with all of the other things you are doing. If you don’t make time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion of heart, you will find yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted by Christmas Day. Your Christmas celebration will look perfect on the surface, but will feel spiritually unsatisfying. You will have a hard time experiencing the joy and peace that the Babe in Bethlehem brings.

What is Advent?

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin Adventus, which means “coming.” It is a time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion in anticipation of the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for the birth of Jesus, but they also prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world. The season offers us the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert as we await his Second Coming. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. It ends at sundown on Christmas Eve. Since Christmas falls on different days of the relxmas36week, Advent can range in duration from 22 days when Christmas falls on a Monday to 28 days when Christmas falls on a Sunday. Advent marks the beginning of the Church year. Unlike the secular year, which marks the passage of time, the liturgical year celebrates the sacred mysteries of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The year begins during Advent in anticipation of the coming of Jesus with reflections on the Hebrew prophecies and the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah.

What do the colors of Advent signify?

The purple or dark blue is a symbol of royalty that anticipates the coming birth of Jesus. It also reflects a spirit of penitence and the need to prepare our hearts. Pink is a secondary Advent color that symbolizes the joy of the season. The evergreens in the Advent wreath signify eternal life that comes to us through Jesus.

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What are the rules regarding fasting and abstinence during Advent?

There are no longer any “official” days of fast or abstinence during Advent, but Catholics are encouraged to prepare themselves spiritually during Advent with voluntary acts of prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving.

Traditions: Posadas

Posadas, a word that means “shelter” or “lodging,” is an Advent custom in Mexico. It re-enacts Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Posadas takes place over nine days, Dec. 16-24, which symbolizes the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. People go from house to house seeking lodging, but the “innkeepers” refuse to let them stay. On Christmas Eve, the travelers are finally welcomed at the last house where they celebrate the birth of Jesus. Read more

Traditions: Advent Calendar

The Advent calendar started in Germany during the 1800s. Families drew a chalk line or lit a candle every night to mark the days until Christmas. Gerhard Lang produced the first printed Advent calendar, which contained small pictures that could be glued to a piece of cardboard each day. Read more

Traditions: The Advent Chain

An Advent Chain is a way to mark the days through Advent. Cut one strip of purple construction paper for each day of Advent. Use a pink strip for the third Sunday of Advent and a white strip for Christmas. Read more

 Stained Glass WindowsWelcome St. Nicholas

The true story of Santa Claus begins when Nicholas’ wealthy parents died in an epidemic while he was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you have and give to [the] poor” (Mt 19:21), Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was appointed bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need.

On the evening of Dec. 5, have children fill their shoes with pieces of a carrot or bits of hay for St. Nicholas’ white horse or donkey. Place shoes outside bedroom doors or on the hearth. See that a candy treat appears by morning on Dec. 6.

Read Thomas Craughwell’s article The Real St. Nicholas” and find out how Santa and St. Nicholas became … confused. And here’s an excerpt from “St. Nicholas: The Wonder Worker,” by Anne E. Neuberger, “A Miracle Baby.”

Did you know that St. Nicholas is also a protector of children? Find out this and more interesting facts and stories about Nicholas at www.stnicholascenter.orgRead more

 

 

BOOTSveti Nikola, najdraži Nikola među djecom, bio je svetac odnosno biskup, ali ujedno i zaštitinik djece i pomoraca.

Mali Nikola, kojeg su roditelji izmolili od Boga, ime je dobio po stricu koji je također bio biskup. Pretpostavlja se da je rođen u mjestu Patari u Maloj Aziji, oko 225. godine. Kako je Sv. Nikola bio zaštitnik djece, nije ni čudno koliko mu se svake godine upravo oni i najviše vesele, dok čiste svoje čizmice pažljivo ih stavljajući na prozor.

To sretno jutro 6. prosinca,  Sv. Nikola razveseli svako dijete sa ponekim slatkišem i nekim slatkim poklonom.

 

Život sv. Nikole

Nikola je djetinjstvo proveo sam jer su mu roditelji rano umrli, no to ga nije spriječilo da širi ljubav i dobrotu kuda god bi pošao. Svima pokazuje smisao života, ohrabruje ljude u nevolje čineći ih sretnima i zadovoljnima.

Njegova velika skromnost i dobrota nije ostala nezapažena, pa su mnogi ljudi od njega preuzeli vjeru i hrabrost te je svima bio omiljeni biskup.  Vjeruje se kako je imao i posebne moći, pa je smirivao more zašto je i postao zaštitnik mornara. U svemu je prepoznavao Boga, što ga je činilo izuzetno dobrom osobom.  

 

Sv. Nikola nosi titulu jednog od najdražih kršćanskih svetaca.  Za njega nije postojalo dobro i loše, već samo dobro čime bi popravio ono manje dobro.

Sv. Nikola umro 6. prosinca 327. godine. Njegovi ostaci i predmeti danas se čuvaju u talijanskim gradu Bariju. Sarkofag se nalazi u Myri, gdje je i preminuo oko 58. godine života,  no tijelo je premiješteno zbog zaštite od turskih osvajanja. Tradicija poklanjanja darova  djeci na 6. prosinac nastala je iz jedne priče odnosno legende.

 

Legenda o sv. Nikoli

Blizu Sv. Nikole je živio bogat čovjek koji je jednoga dana sve izgubio. Kako nije imao novaca da uda nijednu od svoje tri kćeri, odlučio je za zaradu prodavati njihovu ljepotu. Kada je za to saznao Sv. Nikola, zamotao bi zlatnike i bacio ih kroz prozor. Kada bi otac triju kćeri našao novac, uspio je s mirazom udati prvu kćer.

Sljedeći put, Nikola je opet bacio novac za drugu kćer, pa je stari čovjek uspio udati i drugu kćer.Croatia

No, kada je Nikola treći put bacio zlatnike, ovaj put kroz dimnjak, oni su upali u čarape koje su se sušile. Upravo zato, danas su čarape i čizmice glavni simboli ovog veselog blagdana.

Također, i Djed Mraz je preuzeo ovu tehniku, pa i on poklone donosi kroz dimnjak.

Još jedna lijepa priča kaže da je Sv. Nikola živio u davna vremena u šumi, pored jednog sela gdje su živjela i bogata i siromašna djeca. Bogata su bila jer su imala roditelje koji ih vole, dovoljno hrane i prijatelje. Ali nisu imala igračaka a ni obuće. Samo jedan par čizmica. Ipak su djeca vrijedno svaki dan čistila i pazila svoje čizmice, a na Nikolin imendan bi ih posebno lijepo ulaštila i stavila u prozor.

A Nikola bi navečer prolazio i u svaki prozor u kome je bila lijepa čizmica stavio bi jednostavnu drvenu igračku koju je sam napravio. Ali, godine su prolazile i Nikola je bivao sve stariji. Više na svoj imendan nije mogao ići u selo i donositi igračke, a mame nisu htjele da im djeca budu tužna ako ujutro nađu praznu čizmicu.

I zato je svaka mama u tom malom selu stavila u čizmicu ono što je našla u kući. Kako su bili siromašni, to su bile jabuke, orasi, bomboni zamotani u šarene papiriće. A djeca su se probudila i bila sretna jer su već imala dovoljno igračaka, a slatkiši su ih razveselili.

Iako je glavni zaštitnik djece i pomoraca, on štiti i mnoge druge, poput djevojaka, siromašnih, studenata, farmaceuta, pekara, ribara, zaručnika, putnika i mnogih drugih. Sveti Nikola je uistinu pravi zaštitnik. Bazilika Sv. Nikole u Bariju u Italiji je prekrasna i ako ste jedni od obožavatelja ovoga Sveca, svakako je morate vidjeti.

Ako ste i sami bili dobri, sigurno nećete dobiti šibu već neke slatke poklončiće i slatkiše koja vam pripreme oni prema kojima ste bili dobri. Kako djecu, Sv. Nikola razveseli i one malo starije. Ako ste dijete, ili se još uvijek tako osjećate, razveselite se ovome danu i provedite ga ako ništa drugo, barem pjevušeći.

Ines Marinac

 

Pjesma Svetog Nikole

 

Tiho djeco, tiho sada,Stained Glass Windows

Tamna noć već svuda pada!

Već po gradu Niko bijeli,

Dobroj djeci dare dijeli.

Biskupska mu kapa bijela,

Uzdiže se iznad čela.

Poput snijega bijela brada,

Dolje mu do pasa pada.

Duga mu do zemlje halja,

Hodajuć se za njim valja.

Jošte Niko sjedokosi,

štap u jednoj ruci nosi.

Vesele se, raduju se,

Djec mala svetom Niki.

Al´ne samo mala djeca,

Raduju se i veliki.

Djeca znadu da je dobar,

I predobar Niko sveti,

I djetetu da će dobrom

Nešto lijepo on donijeti.

Zar veliki ljudi od njeg´

Ništa na dar dobit´neće?!

Hoće, hoće: da zajednoSANTA4B

Veselje im bude veće.

NaSa radost i veselje,

I vaša će radost biti,

Time hoće Niko sveti,

Vas velike veseliti.

Pa vas, eto, pozdravljamo:

Dobro došli danas k nama,

Roditelji, prijatelji,

Radujte se sada s nama!

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