I tell Ari about how "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" talk Singspiration last night made me cranky because "traditional" Christmas is an invention (see for example, Christmas Unwrapped). In rehearsing the invention of "traditional" Christmas, including the evolution of Santa Claus, I say something like, "Okay yes, there was a guy named Nicholas, who I think got canonized, who gave presents to kids because he was a nice guy." Ari says, "I'm not sure he was actually a particularly nice guy." I pull up Wikipedia, she pulls out books about saints, we learn that almost nothing is known about the historical St. Nicholas.
In reading from one of her hagiographies, she mentions the tradition of kids leaving shoes out for gifts to be put in; I say "Three Kings Day," aka Epiphany, which I mention Prof. Koester(?) had recently said was originally commemorating the Baptism of Jesus (which we now celebrate on the following Sunday). I then pull up Wikipedia.
Where I learn that Baby Jesus has a Wikipedia entry.
There I learn that the Holy Umbilical Cord has a Wikipedia entry.
And while we are on "first class Catholic relics"... the Holy Prepuce.
According to the author David Farley, "Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages."Ari: "I know what I want for Christmas."
I suggest I could buy her a fake jewel-encrusted box -- the cheap sort of thing you would give little kids -- and be like, "The contents of this are just as likely to be the actual Holy Prepuce..."
Ari: "Just as the faithful can make regular water into magic water..." [abbreviated explanation behind the cut]
The Orthodox Churches perform the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany. The blessing is normally done twice: once on the Eve of the Feast—usually at a Baptismal font inside the church—and then again on the day of the feast, outdoors at a body of water. [...] The water that is blessed on this day is known as "Theophany Water" [..] The Orthodox Church teaches that Theophany Water differs from regular holy water in that with Theophany Water, the very nature of the water is changed and becomes incorrupt, a miracle attested to as early as St. John Chrysostom.So if you would rather not sell your baby's foreskin to science...
[new tag thanks to icon Ari mentioned]
Relevant to the conversation we have every year about whether Epiphany is a season or not:
Prior to 1976, the Anglican churches also observed an eight-day feast. Today the Epiphany is classified as a Principal Feast and is observed on January 6 or on the Sunday between January 2 and 8. There is also an Epiphany season, observed between the season of Christmas and the first period of Ordinary Time. It begins at Evening Prayer on the Eve of the Epiphany and ends at Evening Prayer (or Night Prayer) on the Feast of the Presentation (which may be celebrated on February 2 or on the Sunday between January 28 and February 3).