Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE CHRISTIAN FEAST
of the Magi, the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Still in the Roman offices many traces of the baptismal commemora­tion remain, and the memory of yet another manifestation of Christ's glory appears in the antiphon at "Magnificat" at the Second Vespers of the feast:—
" We keep holy a day adorned by three wonders : to-day a star led the Magi to the manger ; to-day at the marriage water was made wine ; to-day for our salvation Christ was pleased to be baptized of John in Jordan. Alleluia."
On the Octave of the Epiphany at Matins the Baptism is the central idea, and the Gospel at Mass bears on the same subject. In Rome itself even the Blessing of the Waters, the distinctive ceremony of the eastern Epiphany rite, is performed in certain churches according to a Latin ritual.31 At Sant' Andrea della Valle, Rome, during the Octave of the Epiphany a Solemn Mass is celebrated every morning according to the Latin rite, and afterwards, on each of the days from January 7—13, there follows a Mass according to one of the eastern rites: Greco-Slav, Armenian, Chaldean, Coptic, Greco-Ruthenian, Greco-Melchite, and Greek.32 It is a week of great opportunities for the liturgiologist and the lover of strange ceremonial.
The Blessing of the Waters is an important event in all countries where the Greek Church prevails. In Greece the " Great Blessing," as it is called, is performed in various ways according to the locality ; sometimes the sea is blessed, sometimes a river or reservoir, sometimes merely water in a church. In seaport towns, where the people depend on the water for their living, the celebration has much pomp and elaborateness. At the Piraeus enormous and enthusiastic crowds gather, and there is a solemn procession of the bishop and clergy to the harbour, where the bishop throws a little wooden cross, held by a long blue ribbon, into the water, withdraws it dripping wet, and sprinkles the bystanders. This is done three times. At Nauplia and other places a curious custom prevails : the archbishop throws a wooden cross into the waters of the harbour, and the fishermen
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