On the Twelfth Day of Christmas: 12+ ways to keep celebrating with the rest of the world (loads of links!)

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


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What a joy it’s been to mark the weeks of Advent and Christmas together. I’m grateful for your companionship and encouragement along the way!

As we enter the season of Epiphany, may you continue to walk in the light as He is in the light. You can read a bit more about the liturgical history of Epiphanytide here. Essentially, we walk through the accounts of Christ’s life between his birth and before his Passion with emphasis on the moments Christ was revealed (made manifest) as the Son of God. If the Incarnation is about God becoming man, Epiphany is about God’s marking this man Jesus as a divine Son, sent to reveal God to us. Get ready for some of the most beautiful, captivating accounts of Christ’s life, teaching, and healing in the coming six weeks. Celebrate that Christ came and moved into the neighborhood!

I’ve included a giant list of ideas for you to celebrate the weeks of Epiphany. Pick one or more to share with friends or family in the coming weeks. (I’ll refer back to them again in my Sunday Daybook posts). In much the way the Magi remind us that Christ was given to all peoples, it’s important to recognize that , for much of the world, the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated with much more fanfare than Christmas Day. This is a great time to learn about their traditions.

May you know the light and walk in the light in the coming weeks,

Tamara

p.s., I’d love to hear your Advent and Christmas highlights. Drop me a comment to share !

Watch & Do for Twelfth Night and Epiphanytide:

  1. Throw a Twelfth Night Party! We attended one last night and have friends who do this every year. It’s a chance to shout a last hurrah for Christmas. Old tradition in England included wassailing, as in “here we come a-wassailing!”. (Maybe you want to make mulled cider one more time?). Friends of ours in Austin are holding Twelfth Night bonfires and inviting friends to bring their Christmas trees for the fire.

  2. Sing or listen to various versions of the carol “We Three Kings”. Here’s a classic orchestration by Eugene Ormandy with a montage of images of the Magi from around the world. Here’s a beautiful instrumental jazz version from Wynton Marsalis Septet performed at Carnegie Hall in 1991.

  3. Read or listen to a performance of T. S. Eliot’s” The Journey of the Magi”. If you’re an Alec Guiness fan, you can’t go wrong with this version (which includes text)> Here’s a dramatic reading I found compelling. Here’s an quality version performed by Denis Adide and shot in locations around Bristol.

  4. Read the Matthew account of the Magi. Here’s a well-done compilation with the text of the account with scenes from the movie The Birth of Jesus. Here’s a dramatized version with Scripture narration. For a movie adaptation of the Luke and Matthew accounts, here’s the Visit of the Shepherds and the Magi scene from the Catherine Hardwick's film "The Nativity Story" (2006). (Here’s a 15 minute edit of the magi scenes from the entire movie.)

  5. Learn more about the theories of the history of the wise men: Mystery of the Magi, 3 Wise Men: Ancient Magicians?, and, my favorite from the Smithsonian Channel, How to Understand the Three Wise Men, Frankincense & Myrrh.

  6. Pray for Bethlehem: O Little Town of Bethlehem, Celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem, What Do Jews In Israel Think About Jesus Christ the Messiah?, Historic Bethlehem Now A Modern Mix of Cultures, Bethlehem, Palestine: Church of the Nativity.

  7. Chalk the Doors & pray an Epiphany House Blessing: watch here and here for explanations from a couple of Protestant pastors and here for a video demonstration from a Catholic mom: Epiphany Part 1: House Blessing. You can find prayers here or print out a larger prayer service adapted from various sources that leads you to pray through each room of your home: Feast of the Epiphany.

  8. Make paper crowns (free printable!) and King’s Cake: An Easy DIY King’s Cake or 3 Kings Cake for Rosca De Reyes - A Traditional bread to celebrate Feast of Epiphany.

  9. Learn about Three King’s Day celebrations from around the world. Consider making international dishes from any of these countries. Three Kings Parade (Madrid), Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains the Magic of Three Kings Day (Puerto Rico/New York), Epiphany Celebrated In Catholic and Orthodox Churches (Rome, Istanbul, Sofia), Epiphany Celebration (Italy), Orthodox Christians Celebrate Epiphany/Prepare for Christmas (Bulgaria, WBank, Turkey). (Can you imagine joining that celebration in Bulgaria?!?)

  10. Remember your baptism! During Epiphany we remember Jesus’ baptism and it’s a good season to renew our own baptism vows -- whether in your corporate worship service or in your family and personal prayer time. May I recommend this post from my son's baptism? It includes the Anglican baptism liturgy, but applicable for all followers of Christ. Or you can be brave and join the Eastern Europeans: Icy dip: Russians plunge into freezing waters on Epiphany, Brave Muscovites plunge icy waters to celebrate Epiphany, and Putin takes traditional Epiphany dip in icy lake .

  11. Go stargazing (and if you can’t get a clear night, watch this!). Make paper stars! Here’s a lovely tutorial: Origami Christmas Star/Star of Bethlehem/ 8-point Star.

  12. Keep twinkle lights and candles glowing in and outside your home right up until Candlemas (also known as the Feast of the Presentation)! Here’s a lovely write-up from The Homely Hours about the meaning of Candlemas and a family liturgy printable for Candlemas. I also love this idea for creating a candlelit prayer walk. Here’s a tutorial for building a beautiful snow lantern.


Read on the Eve of Epiphany: Psalm 29, 98; Isaiah 66:18-23; Romans 15:7-13

Pray:

We bless you, Abba, Father, for you have visited your people in one like us in all things but sin, and in human fragility you have revealed the face of divinity. Gather into your arms all the peoples of the world, so that in your embrace we may find blessing, peace, and the fullness of our inheritance as your daughters and sons. Amen.
— Revised Common Lectionary Prayers

A final Merry Christmas from me to you!

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas: Dance!

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


The tenth day of Christmas in the quirky carol calls for 10 lords a-leaping. Whatever that means and one day late, here’s 11 clips of some of my favorite Christmas movie dance scenes (and there’s a whole lot more than 11!)

What would YOU add?

Watch:

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Yule Ball

  2. A Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Dance

  3. Almost Christmas (2017), Dance Break Scene

  4. Scrooge, December the 25th

  5. Meet Me In St. Louis, Christmas Dance

  6. Holiday Inn, New Year’s Eve (w/different soundtrack)

  7. Love At the Christmas Table, Can’t Help Myself

  8. Elf, Dancing In the Mailroom

  9. It’s A Wonderful Life, High School Dance

  10. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ballet

  11. This Christmas (2007), Got To Give It Up


I praise you, O God, for these inexplicable gifts of mirth and merriment and laughter, delighting in such foretaste of the wellsprings of eternal joy that ever bubble and flow within your glad Trinity. Amen.
— "Upon Experiencing Cheering Laughter" by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

Do:

Dance!

Today’s a good day to bust a move.

I dare you to dance today -- somewhere, anywhere, even if only for a few minutes. You could at least do as well as this guy.

Maybe you’d also enjoy reading this piece I wrote a few years back: The Preacher’s Family Is A Dancing Family.


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

On the Tenth Day of Christmas: 10+ Beautifully Made Commercials To Indulge Your Sentimental Side

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


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TRIGGER WARNING! PLEASE BE ADVISED: THIS POST CONTAINS HIGHER THAN RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE OF SAP. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I basically refuse to watch Christmas commercials until after the gifts have all been purchased and given. I’m too susceptible to the manipulation! So, today I’m sitting back and letting my sentimental side fly free. Want to join in?

p.s., Are British Christmas adverts far and away better than anyone else’s? Or is it just me? Whatever this John Lewis company is selling, I’ll buy all of it! I’ve added a couple more runners-up toward the bottom of the list. The Heathrow Airport bears get me.

p.s. #2: Don’t miss the bonus “making of” for behind the scenes of an animated commercial - it’s almost as good as the actual thing!

p.s. #3, If the first nine selections weren’t enough, you can power through the ten more clips in the last link. Good luck.

Watch:

  1. John Lewis - Buster the Boxer, Blink

  2. John Lewis - The Long Wait, Blink

  3. John Lewis - The Journey, Blink

  4. John Lewis - Monty’s Christmas, Blink

  5. John Lewis - The Bear & The Hare and The Making of ‘The Bear & The Hare’, Blink

  6. Heathrow Airport - Coming Home for Christmas, Outsider

  7. Heathrow Airport - Home For Christmas, Outsider

  8. Erste Christmas Ad 2018: What Would Christmas Be Without Love?

  9. Lily and the Snowman, Cineplex

  10. Top 10 Touching Christmas Commercials, Jake’s Top 10

 

Read: Psalm 136; Genesis 28:10-22; Hebrews 11:13-22; John 10:7-17

Pray that “hopes and fears of all the years” for each one who celebrates Christmas would meet the One who gives above and beyond our every imagination.

The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.
— "Christmas Day" by G.K. Chesterton, Generally Speaking

Do:

Stay firmly rooted in the Incarnation story

[from my 2013 post: “12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas”]

“Keep reading after the manger, celebrate the magi's arrival, pray the words of Simeon and Anna in the temple. Notice the characters, ask the Father of Jesus to make you worshipers like the very first who bowed in adoration to His son.”


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

On the Ninth Day of Christmas: 9 All-Time Favorite Musical Moments in Christmas Movies

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


I realize I may be the only blogger in the Western world still creating posts about Christmas. So be it. It’s my own version of resistance and I’m taking a kind of stubborn pride in not giving up until we’ve celebrated all 12 days here at A Sacramental Life. God, forgive me for my pride, but sustain anything holy in my resistance. Are you still with me?

Today: nine (+) of my all-time favorite musical moments in the Christmas movies we watch year after year. Have you ever considered Christmas carols as their own form of resistance to the what Walter Brueggemann would call, the empire? This is why I could never completely withhold from singing Christmas carols during Advent. The world is subconsciously (or otherwise) bowing the knee to King Jesus with every verse of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” or “Joy to the World” streaming through mall intercoms hither and yon. Not all of my favorite Christmas movie carols can be found in a hymnbook, but hidden even in the humanistic poetry of White Christmas there’s a holy longing for peace, justice, and beauty.

That’s why I’m still listening to Christmas carols and watching Christmas movies on January 2nd. Who’s with me?

  1. Ding, Dong, Merrily On High & Deck the Halls - Little Women

  2. Christmas Time Is Here - Charlie Brown Christmas

  3. Snow - White Christmas

  4. One More Sleep Til Christmas - Muppets Christmas Carol

  5. The Spirit of Christmas (Ray Charles) - National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

  6. White Christmas (The Drifters) - Home Alone

  7. White Christmas - White Christmas

  8. Hark the Herald Angels Sing & Auld Lany Syne - It’s A Wonderful Life

  9. Silent Night & Adeste Fidelis- Joyeux Noel


Read: Psalm 33; Genesis 12:1-7; Hebrews 11:1-12; John 6:35-42, 48-51

Pray this poem/prayer for the beginning of a New Year:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
— "A New Year's Poem", Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Do:

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Write thank-you cards or New Year’s greetings


[from my 2013 post: “12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas”]

“When I was growing up my mother always sent her annual family newsletter at New Year's. Makes sense, right? Some years I set up a card-writing station on our dining table so that throughout the week we all take turns writing thank you-cards.”

Here’s some excellent encouragement from Rachel Marie Stone, via Englewood Review of Books: Write A Better Year End Letter. If you’d rather just have a good laugh about not sending any cards, read Simcha Fisher’s How To Write An Honest Christmas Letter.


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

On the Eighth Day of Christmas: Unchartered Territory for New Year's Day

My Christmas daybook for these 12 days of celebrating. We'll be spending Christmastide with some favorite short films and video clips. Join me, won't you? 

For an introduction read this post: Christmastide. You can see previous Christmas Daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


New Year’s Day evokes the idea of untouched meadows and forests of pristine snow. Anyone else? It’s a good day for a hike. We’re supposed to be partly sunny and 55 degrees here in Connecticut so we’ll probably walk the beach instead. Maybe we can figure out how to build a sandman?

I curated today’s videos to reflect both the beauty and inherent danger of unchartered territory. If you watch the videos in the listed progression, you may notice the story arc which includes pristine beauty, courageous adventurers, inevitable danger, and the power of grit, wonder, and community. May you receive the storyline as a blessing on your 2019!

Watch:

  1. Snow Circles, Sonja Hinrichsen Snow Drawing

  2. Christmas in Yellowstone | Yellowstone Untouched, PBS Nature

  3. Ice Skating Along the River in Sweden, Erik Normark

  4. Snow Chick Ventures Onto the Ice for the First Time, BBC

  5. Perfect World - Katie Melua, Karni and Saul

  6. Buff PASH, Kurtis Jackson

  7. How Does A Penguin Launch Itself From the Sea?, BBC

  8. Dog sledding and aurora- Northern Lights on the Finnmark plateau, Jan Helmer Olsen


Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Feast of the Holy Name

Do:

Take a hike

[from my 2013 post: “12 Ways to Savor the 12 Days of Christmas”]

“Get outside. Take a road trip. Hike a nearby trail. Go skiing, sled-riding, ice-skating. This year we piled together in the van for the hour and a half trip to enjoy San Antonio's river walk. We were rewarded with a crisp, clear Texas night and a round yellow moon.”

p.s., Texas Parks & Wildlife coordinates guided “First Day Hikes”. You can find 2019 locations here. Anyplace else offer something similar?


(See all Christmas Daybook posts from 2017 here.)