31 December 2009

Let's Get To It

The Pagans had the day first, with a Saturnalia of sorts in commemoration of the beginning of the counting of the New Year. In Roman Jerusalem it was known and celebrated by Jews and Pagans and even early Christians as well until it was banned with special fasts and masts of forgiveness. It wasn't really until 1582 under the leadership of Pope Gregory XIII, whose calendar reform made January 1st the New Year on Continental Europe. So all this kissing in Times Square tonight--FEH! It's of recent vintage.

The Feast of the Circumcision works for me. Do the counting yourself--8 days after Christmas, what else? A bris! The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church claims that the observance of the Feast of the Circumcision goes back to the 6th century, spreading up to Spain and Gaul and in fact adopted by the Roman church only in the 11th century. Popes couldn't very well introduce another feast since the Saturnalia happiness (or the the Jews, a good schmear) had been going on already for centuries. In fact, according to the ODCC, "many early Missals provided a second Mass for use on that day against idolatrous practices." But nothing about 2010 glasses, alas.

I've simply never liked it. Auld Lang Syne, Guy Lombardo, champagne glasses, televised kissing in New York City--it struck me since early childhood as a weird voyeuristic journey into another culture's denial of death.

2010 has great symmetry though, and alot of people are talking about "hoping this will be a better decade than the last one."

That'll take a lot of work. So when the champagne bubbles and headaches wear off, let's get to it.

What do you say at a bris? Torah, Huppah, and Maasim Tovim--Learning, Partnership and Good Deeds. That'll make a better decade for sure.

1 comment:

Daniel Meeter said...

The Church Order of the Dutch Reformed Church used to require manadatory worship services on January 1 for the Circumcision of Christ. So if they followed the rules, my early congregation did so as well. That included Holy Communion. What kind of a meal do you all have to celebrate a bris?