The Christmas Story in Chronological Order

 

• John 1: 1-18 Prologue to the Incarnation

A leaf from the 1466 manuscript of the Antiquitates Iudaice, National Library of Poland.

A leaf from the 1466 manuscript of the Antiquitates Iudaice, National Library of Poland.  Photo Source: Wikipedia.org

• Luke 1:1-25 Announcement concerning John the Baptist

• Luke 1:26-38 Announcement to Mary about Jesus

• Luke 1:39-56 Mary visits Elizabeth

• Matthew 1: 18-25 Announcement to Joseph about Jesus

• Luke 1:57-80 Birth of John the Baptist

• Luke 2:1-20 Birth of Jesus

• Matthew 1:1-17: Luke 3:23-38 Genealogies of Jesus

• Luke 2:21-38 Jesus presented in the Temple

• Matthew 2:1-18 Coming of the Wise Men and Flight to Egypt

• Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39,40 Return to Nazareth

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12 Days of Christmas: An Underground Catechism Song?

Fact or Fiction?

The Real Meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas

Partridge in a Pear Tree illustration  At one time, it was a crime to be Catholic.

During 1558 to 1829, Catholics in England were prohibited by law from any practice of their faith… private or public.  To be caught with anything in writing, indicating the adherence to the Catholic Faith, would find a person imprisoned, hanged…or hanged, drawn and quartered.

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith… a memory aid.

Rosary
Despite the absence of hard evidence that the 12 Days of Christmas is a song of catechism, it can still be used as a learning tool.

In 1979, a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, published an article, “How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas”, claiming that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was criminalized in England (1558 until 1829). McKellar offered no evidence for his claim and subsequently admitted that the purported associations were his own invention.[29] The idea was further popularized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Hal Stockert, in an article he wrote in 1982 and posted online in 1995,[30][31] In 1987 and 1992, Fr. James Gilhooley, chaplain of Mount Saint Mary College of Newburgh, New York repeated these claims.[32][33] None of the enumerated items would distinguish Catholics from Protestants, and so would hardly need to be secretly encoded.[3]

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, author of the Crossroads Initiative,  writes “The “Twelve Days of Christmas” refer to the eight days of the Christmas Octave from December 25 to New Years Day, and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. In the USA and many other countries, Epiphany is now celebrated on the first Sunday after New Years, so the exact number 12 does not necessarily apply. But the point is, don’t throw out the tree on the 26th–the birth of the Savior can’t be celebrated adequately in one day. Let the celebration continue through at least through the Feast of the Epiphany–if not through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith. It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. Instead of referring to an earthly suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song really refers to God. The “me” who receives the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

There appears to be no conclusive historical evidence to prove this origin of the song, Nevertheless, the traditional association between the gifts mentioned in the song and various spiritual gifts is a fun way to turn a seemingly secular Christmas carol into a valuable catechetical tool. So let’s have fun with it!”

12 Days of Christmas

The song’s gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith.  The “true love” mentioned in the song refers to God, Himself.  The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (A mother partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings.)

the bird, partridge

A mother partridge will distract a predictor from her young in order to save them. The partridge in the song “12 Days of Christmas” represents Jesus.

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity)

4 Calling Birds = The Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch,” which gives the history of man’s fall from Grace.

6 Geese-a-Laying = The Six Days of Creation

7 Swans-a-Swimming = the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 7 sacraments

8 Maids-a-Milking = the Eight Beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords-a-Leaping = the Ten Commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the Eleven faithful Apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the Twelve points of Doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

 

Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Mashed Potatoes
Photo by BHG.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds baking potatoes (such as russet or Yukon gold), peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Butter or margarine (optional)

Directions:

In a medium saucepan cook potatoes and the 1/2 teaspoon salt, covered, in enough boiling water to cover for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash with a potato masher or beat with an electric mixer on low speed. Add butter. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Gradually beat in enough milk to make mixture light and fluffy. If desired, serve with butter.

Nutrition Facts (Mashed Potatoes)
Per serving: 157 kcal cal., 6 g fat (4 g sat. fat, 0 g polyunsaturated fat, 2 g monounsatured fat), 16 mg chol., 344 mg sodium, 23 g carb., 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 3 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

From the Better Homes & Garden Test Kitchen:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Prepare as above, except add 4 peeled garlic cloves to water while cooking potatoes and substitute 2 tablespoons olive oil for the butter.

Per 3/4 cup: 171 cal., 7 g total fat (1 g sat. fat),1 mg chol., 303 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 3 g pro.
Daily Values: 32% vit. C, 3% calcium, 6% iron.
Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 1 Fat
 

Pesto Mashed Potatoes:
Prepare as above, except add 2 tablespoons purchased pesto along with the butter.

Per 3/4 cup: 212 cal., 11 g total fat (4 g sat. fat),17 mg chol., 402 mg sodium, 25 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 4 g pro.
Daily Values: 4% vit. A, 30% vit. C, 2% calcium, 5% iron.
Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 2 Fat
 

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes:
Prepare as above, except add 1/2 cup dairy sour cream with the butter. Stir 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives into the potatoes just before serving. If desired, sprinkle with additional snipped fresh chives.

Per 3/4 cup: 209 cal., 11 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 27 mg chol., 356 mg sodium, 25 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 4 g pro.
Daily Values: 8% vit. A, 32% vit. C, 5% calcium, 5% iron.
Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 2 Fat

Cheesy Chipotle Potatoes:
Prepare as above, except stir 1/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (2 ounces) and 1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce into potatoes before serving.

Per 3/4 cup: 215 cal., 11 g total fat (7 g sat. fat), 31 mg chol., 437 mg sodium, 24 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 7 g pro.
Daily Values: 7% vit. A, 30% vit. C, 13% calcium, 6% iron.
Exchange: 1 1/2 Starch 1/2 High Fat Meat 2 Fat
 

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Photo by Taste of Home

  • 17 chocolate cream-filled sandwich cookies, crushed
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 TBsp sugar

FILLING:

  • 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  •  3 TBsp. baking cocoa
  •  2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  •  1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring

FROSTING:

  • 1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  •  1/4 cup butter, softened
  •  2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

  1. Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter and sugar. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, buttermilk, cocoa and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in food coloring. Pour over crust. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.
  4. Bake at 325° for 60-70 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan.
  5. For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost top of cheesecake. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: 16 servings.

Originally published as Red Velvet Cheesecake in Country Woman December/January 2012, p42

Candy Cane Cheesecake

Candy Cane Cheeseckae

Candy Cane Cheesecake
This cheesecake is another great way to enjoy Candy Canes this holiday season. Click here for recipe.

Yield: 16 Servings
Prep: 50 min.
Bake Time: 55 min. + chilling

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. melted butter
1/4 c. sugar

Filling:

  • 5 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Topping:

  • 1c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. confectioners sugar (also known as powdered sugar, icing sugar or sucre glace)
  • Additional crushed peppermint candies or  candy canes

Directions:
Place a greased 10 inch springform pan on a double thickness of  heavy duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. In a small bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press onto the bottom of prepared pan.  Place pan on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 or until set.  Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the sour cream, flour and vanilla.  Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Fold in crushed candies or candy canes and, if desired,  a few drops of red food coloring. Pour over crust. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 inch of hot water to large pan.

Bake at 350° for 55 to 65 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.  Cool 1 hour longer.  Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan.

In small bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners/icing sugar/sucre glace.  Beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe around edge of cheesecake and sprinkle with additional crushed candies.

©Taste of Home 2012

Sugar Cookies

Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes

3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBsp. vanilla

Roll into balls and press with sugared glass.  Bake at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes.

If desired, use colored sugar to add a more festive flavor to your dessert.

Santa Claus Returns to North Pole

Santa and Mrs. Claus prepare for Christmas 2013

Mrs. Claus comes to Town

Mrs. Claus waved “good-bye” to the world… until next year! You better be good in 2013!!!!

Santa Claus has returned to his wife and home in the North Pole.

The two, along with the elves, are already making preparations for next year’s event on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013.

However, the couple have plans to celebrate the New Year together.

The elves have also made New Year’s plans in celebration of their two weeks paid vacation. According to a union spokesperson, the elves are slated to return to work Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.