Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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CHRISTMAS IN LITURGY
of the place dive in after it and struggle for its possession ; he who wins it has the right of visiting all the houses of the town and levying a collection, which often brings in a large sum. In Samos all the women send to the church a vessel full of water to be blessed by the priest; with this water the fields and the trees are sprinkled.33
The sense attached to the ceremony by the Church is shown in this prayer :—
" Thou didst sanctify the streams of Jordan by sending from Heaven Thy Holy Spirit, and by breaking the heads of the dragons lurking there. Therefore, O King, Lover of men, be Thou Thyself present also now by the visitation of Thy Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. Give also to it the grace of ransom, the blessing of Jordan : make it a fountain of incorruption ; a gift of sanctification ; a washing away of sins ; a warding off of diseases; destruction to demons ; repulsion to the hostile powers ; rilled with angelic strength ; that all who take and receive of it may have it for purification of souls and bodies, for healing of sicknesses, for sanctification of houses, and meet for every need." 34
Though for the Church the immersion of the cross represents the Baptism of Christ, and the blessings springing from that event are supposed to be carried to the people by the sprinkling with the water, it is held by some students that the whole practice is a Christianization of a primitive rain-charm—a piece of sympathetic magic intended to produce rain by imitating the drenching which it gives. An Epiphany song from Imbros connects the blessing of rain with the Baptism of Christ, and another tells how at the river Jordan " a dove came down, white and feathery, and with its wings opened ; it sent rain down on the Lord, and again it rained and rained on our Lady, and again it rained and rained on its wings."3S
The Blessing of the Waters is performed in the Greek church of St. Sophia, Bayswater, London, on the morning of the Epiphany, which, through the difference between the old and new "styles," falls on our 19th of January. All is done within the church ; the water to be blessed is placed on a table under
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