* Be sure to try the links to online activities in larger bold type.
The birth of Jesus Christ
The gospel of Luke tells the story of the angels and shepherds. The gospel of Matthew tells us of the coming of the three wise ones. These scriptures have inspired many songs and customs to help us remember the story of immense love.
* Watch Linus tell what Christmas is all about.
* Can you guess the terms from the Christmas Story
* Try a word search with the names of the people you find in the Christmas gospels.
* Listen to a flash mob sing the Christmas story.
Celebrate with Christmas Carols
Good King Wenceslas (for December 26)
The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of (907–935). English hymn writer John Mason Neale was inspired by the quality of mercy in the legend. that he founded a society which still offers care to the poor in their homes. In 1853 he wrote the "Wenceslas" lyrics set to the melody of a 13th-century spring carol. You can read a great article about the real Wenceslas here.
*Listen to the song Good King Wenceslas and see how different artists pictured the scene.
'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
This carol, generally considered the first Canadian carol, was originally written in the Huron Indian language in 1640 and set to an old French tune by a Jesuit priest, Jean de Brebeuf. In retelling the story of the Nativity, Father Brebeuf used symbols and figures that could be understood by the Hurons, and the hymn entered the tribe's oral tradition.
1) ’Twas in the moon of wintertime, When all the birds had fled, That mighty Gitchi Manitou Sent angel choirs instead; Before their light the stars grew dim, And wondering hunters heard the hymn:
Refrain: Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.
2) Within a lodge of broken bark The tender babe was found, A ragged robe of rabbit skin Enwrapped His beauty round; But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high:
3) The earliest moon of wintertime Is not so round and fair As was the ring of glory on The helpless Infant there. The chiefs from far before Him knelt With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
4) O children of the forest free, O seed of Manitou, The holy Child of earth and Heav’n Is born today for you. Come kneel before the radiant Boy, Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
*You can listen to a YouTube of the song sung in Wendat (Huron), then French and then English.
One of our all-time favorite Christmas Carols was written at the last minute for a Christmas service that would have gone without music except for this original piece.
*Find out about the writing of Silent Night a most beloved Christmas carol by watching this video.
Keep Christmas Customs
A distinctive feature of Christmas decorations in Ireland is the very large candle placed near the front window and lighted on Christmas Eve. According to one belief, the candle long served as a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph who sought shelter in vain on that first Christmas Eve. The ceremony of lighting the candle is one of simple ancient rituals during which prayers are said for the departed and the privilege of striking the match is usually given to a daughter named Mary. (Another tradition is that the candle be lighted by the youngest member of the family and snuffed out only by someone named Mary). This flickering symbol also served as a signal in times past to any priest seeking shelter and protection that he was welcome in this house and that it was safe to say Mass there.
In medieval times Miracle Plays were acted out in front of Churches to tell Bible stories to the people who could not read. At that time 24th December was Adam and Eve's day. A play acting out the story of the first parents was acted out with a Paradise Tree represented the Garden of Eden. This tree was carried around the town before the play started to advertising the play since there was no internet.
The first person to bring a Christmas Tree into a house, in the way we know it today, may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. He wanted to recreate the beauty of the starry night sky with lighted candles on the tree.
Many of the decorations represent parts of the Christmas story, such as, a star (led the wise ones), candy cane (the shepherd's crook), gifts (brought by the wise ones), angel (appeared to shepherds), bells (call us to praise God), lights (Jesus is light of the world).