CHRISTMAS IN LITURGY
Since every creature made by Thee Brings to Thee its thanksgiving.
The Angels bring their song,
The Heavens bring their star,
The Magi bring their gifts,
The Shepherds bring their awe, Earth gives a cave, the wilderness a manger, And we the Virgin-Mother bring. God before all worlds, have mercy upon us ! " 27
A beautiful rite called the " Peace of God " is performed in Slavonic churches at the end of the "Liturgy" or Mass on Christmas morning—the people kiss one another on both cheeks, saying, " Christ is born ! " To this the answer is made, " Of a truth He is born ! " and the kisses are returned. This is repeated till everyone has kissed and been kissed by all present.28
We must pass rapidly over the feasts of saints within the Octave of the western Christmas, St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28), and St. Sylvester (December 31). None of these, except the feast of the Holy Innocents, have any special connection with the Nativity or the Infancy, and the popular customs connected with them will come up for consideration in our Second Part.
The commemoration of the Circumcision ("when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child") falls naturally on January 1, the Octave of Christmas. It is not of Roman origin, and was not observed in Rome until it had long been established in the Byzantine and Gallican Churches.29 In Gaul, as is shown by a decree of the Council of Tours in 567, a solemn fast was held on the Circumcision and the two days following it, in order to turn away the faithful from the pagan festivities of the Kalends.3°
The feast of the Epiphany on January 6, as we have seen, is in the eastern Church a commemoration of the Baptism of Christ. In the West it has become primarily the festival of the adoration