Friday Dec. 25, 2020’s Smile of the Day: Christmas

On this Day:

As early as 336, Roman Christians observed Christmas on 25 December of the Gregorian calendar, and Eastern Christians observed Christmas on 25 December of the Julian calendar (which corresponds to 7 January of the Gregorian calendar). The Christian Council of Tours of 567 established Advent as the season of preparation for Christmas, as well as the season of Christmastide, declaring “the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle”, thus giving significance both to 25 December and to 6 January, a solution that would “coordinate the solar Julian calendar with the lunar calendars of its provinces in the east”.

Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian areas, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations, and Christmas trees. 

“Christmas” is a shortened form of “Christ’s mass”. The word is recorded as Crīstesmæsse in 1038 and Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah”, meaning “anointed”; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist.

The gospels of Luke and Matthew describe Jesus as being born in Bethlehem to the Virgin Mary. In Luke, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger. Angels proclaimed him a saviour for all people, and shepherds came to adore him.

Matthew adds that the magi follow a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the king of the Jews. King Herod orders the massacre of all the boys less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and later returns to Nazareth (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, toys not included.” – Bernard Manning

Second, a Song:

I have to admit that “I’ll be Home for Christmas” is perhaps the most touching Christmas song I know. These days with Covid it takes on extra meaning with all of us stuck in our bubbles and unable to get together. 

The Petersens are an American bluegrass family band from Branson, Missouri, the authors of the popular songs “California,” and “It’s Over.” Since the group’s inception, they are a regular feature on Country Music and Bluegrass television specials.

The Petersen children grew up playing music together, but first heard bluegrass in 2003 at the Gettysburg bluegrass festival. The band was formed and had their first performance in 2005 at their mother’s hometown church First Christian Church of Mountain Grove, MO.

The band was originally siblings Katie (on fiddle), Ellen (on banjo), their brother Matt (on bass), and their youngest sister Julianne (sings and dance), accompanied by their mother Karen (on mandolin) and father Jon (on guitar). But over time, Julianne took the mandolin part and Karen switched to bass. Matt took the guitar part and their father, Jon, played the piano on some of the gospel songs. These early performances were mostly held initially in local festivals, churches and cafes. 

In 2010 the band won the CAM Gospel Sing-Off competition at the Sight & Sound Theatre in Branson, which performance caught the attention of the IMAX Entertainment Complex and where they were invited to play regularly at the Little Opry Theater for the entertainment of local and state residents. In 2015, the band received international recognition when banjo player, Ellen Petersen, competed in the singing reality TV show, American Idol, placing in the top 48. In 2017, Emmett Franz joined the band as their dobro player.

In 2018 the band placed 4th in the International Bluegrass Music Competition in Nashville. 

Katie, vocal and composer, has composed several original songs of her own, the most popular being “California.” Julianne is a multi-talented performer with a history of buck-dancing whilst playing the violin at the same time.

The band, although young and upcoming, has garnered praise from top music professionals in the United Kingdom, who see the group as being unique in the field of bluegrass music. So, too, Tripadvisor, has posted a reference to The Petersens as a suggested entertainment venue when visiting Branson, MO (per Wikipedia).

Here are The Petersens performing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”.  I hope you enjoy it!


Thought for the Day:

“Christmas is, of course, the time to be home – in heart as well as body.” – Garry Moore

Merry Christmas to All.

Have a great day!

© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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