15 November 2016

Old Advent

Originally both Advent and Lent were of the same length, forty days, and a time of fasting and prayer in preparation for the great holiday ahead.
"The word 'Advent' is from the Latin 'Adventus,' which means 'coming.' Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year (in the Western churches), and encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (which is November 30th), and so it will always fall somewhere between November 27th at the earliest and December 3rd at the latest. The liturgical color for this season is purple (Usually a deep purple as opposed to the lighter, red-violet shade of purple associated with Lent).
Like Lent, Advent is a preparatory season. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ's birth, and for the time when Christ will come again." *
Today, of course, Advent is simply a great rush of shopping to get "the best" gift ever for someone.

This year the Advent season is at its longest since Christmas is on a Sunday, and in a few days it will be "Stir-Up Sunday," the day you are supposed to bake and then put away your Christmas puddings "in the larder" for the upcoming holiday.

In the meantime, a take on classic Victorian Christmas literature for the first day of Old Advent:

Away in a Manger, Rhys Bowen
Former "female detective" Molly Murphy—now Molly Murphy Sullivan with a toddler son—is doing some early Christmas shopping with her young ward Bridie when they come upon a tiny blonde girl singing Christmas carols with the voice of an angel. Bridie is intrigued by the girl, and in the process of being kind to the child, they meet her brother, find out the children must earn money under the tyrannical rule of their "Aunt Hettie," and notice that both of the youngsters speak with cultured British accents. Molly can't understand for the life of her how these two ended up on the streets—but if you are familiar with the Molly Murphy mystery series you know she won't leave the situation alone, even though her husband Daniel, a newly-minted, unbribable police captain, warns her that they may be part of a confidence ring.

While the usual Molly regulars appear, including Daniel's imperious mother and Molly's loving but eccentric neighbors Sid and Gus, Bowen has done this one one better by writing it in the plot fashion of a Victorian Christmas melodrama, with the primary characters, two well-bred children of evident aristocratic heritage, immediately in place. So don't be surprised when some of the villains of the piece appear Dickensian or sound like they come from a 1900 novel (this means you can pick out one of the bad guys just by how that person is described), all wrapped up in modern sensibility. Just sit back and enjoy the Victorian machinations and the evocative descriptions of Christmas in New York at the turn of the last century: slippery sidewalks, crossing sweepers, the new technology of mechanical figures in store Christmas display windows, mistletoe, buying a fresh Christmas tree from a streetcorner vendor, hot chestnuts, cold sleet, home-baked Christmas goodies (even from Sid and Gus!), charity, and a character losing hope...

And of course there's the usual massive coincidence as well. Never mind: it's all about family and finding a home and making happiness out of the small things. This one has jingle bells upon it.

* from aquinasandmore.com

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