Monday, November 24, 2008
The Horror of the Secular "Holiday Season" Begins
For the last week, I have noticed an increasing number of advertisements on t.v. and the radio for Christmas commerical events (e.g., shopping). My wife and I went out to lunch last Friday and the background muszak at the restaurant was all Christmas carols and pop "holiday" music. That was just a little bit past the half-way point of November. It was insane. We haven't even gotten through Thanksgiving yet, and already the "holiday" madness is upon us. Yeech. Soon after Thanksgiving all of this will kick into high gear, getting us ready for "the most magical time of year" as one of the car ads I saw on t.v. last night called it. A couple of points of reflection on this rush into "holiday" madness. First of all, regardless of what the secular culture says, the Christmas season does not begin the day after Thanksgiving -- or two weeks before it. It begins on December 25 and runs through the Feast of the Presentation, February 2. That is the season of Christmas. The merchants -- moneychangers in the Temple! -- want everyone to get hyper about Christmas as soon as possible, and I understand that. The economy is what it is. But the secular rush to buy, buy, buy has very little to do with the actual Christmas season. That season is still a looooong way off. Second, the liturgical season we enter into after Thanksgiving is Advent. It is a preparatory season, getting us ready for Christmas. It is the beginnng of the Church's year. And -- get ready for it -- it is historically a penitential season. The liturgical color is purple, the same color used during Lent. In the Latin rite prior to Vatican II, there were fasting and abstinance rules that had to be followed during Advent, and there still are in the Eastern Church. Pay attention to the lectionary readings during the Advent season, and they are for the most part not cute readings about lambs and mangers and wise men. Those readings aren't part of the liturgy until after Christmas day. Instead, during Advent, we get to hear about God's judgment. Why is that? Because it is a penitential season, that's why. Third, during the upcoming "holiday" madness, this blog will remain in sync with the Church's liturgical calendar. During Advent, my "holiday" blogging posts will deal with Advent as a penitential season anticipating Christmas. I refuse to let the secular culture dictate the seasons to me. Particularly regarding something as important as Christmas.