Monday, December 31, 2007

Easing out of the Holidays

We generally keep the tree up until Little Christmas, or the Epiphany. Back in the good old days of permissive polluting, the city would collect all the trees and make a huge pile in DePeyster Field down the block. The night of Jan. 6, there would be an enormous bonfire. The Kiwanis Club would pass out peanuts, the high school choir would sing and we all watched the blaze and imagined pagan spirits rising into the smoky sky (Or was that only me?). Anyway, that has been banned for lo! these many years and there has not been any appropriate holiday ending ritual for me until the past few years when John and Sally and I have gone up to the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland for their Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival.
The cathedral is a beautiful stone building which just celebrated its 100th birthday this past year. They have been doing this for 45 years and it is a splendid pageant. It begins with the Beefeaters marching in, cowled monks bearing torches to light the candles, followed by minstrels, servants bearing the boar's head, ladies of the court singing, tumblers and acrobats, and funny little boys dressed like jesters pulling in the Yule log. Joseph and Mary come in, he leading a donkey with a brave young enactor sitting side ways on its back.Then come singing shepherds (with live sheep which bleat baritone bleats) and the three wise men, all costumed brilliantly. The organ and trumpets are raising the roof, the audience is singing, too, and the choir is trilling away. It is just a joyous occasion in a perfect setting.
We always go to the Christmas Eve service at the Kent Unitarian Universalist church, which is a completely different setting. It's a nice old building, being one of the oldest in Kent, founded by early New England settlers here. A piano. No stained glass or soaring transept. It's a bit like having your friends over for some Christmas caroling. It always ends with the congregation holding candles and singing "Silent Night" in English, German and Spanish.
Even we heathens like a church at Christmas time.

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