I haven’t yet had a chance to put together a complete version of days 4-7 of the Japan trip. Hopefully that’ll occur soon. Before a “days 8-11” post anyway.
Instead I’ve opened this draft about Christmas. It was originally going to be mainly a collection of Christmas songs, as I did last year, but then I got thinking.
Christmas and other Year’s End celebrations are a collection of rituals. There are the obvious thematic ones – religious and secular. Then there are the family/ cultural ones which are interconnected but distinct.
For example, I celebrate Christmas as a religious commemoration with Mass. While the way I believe has changed as I’ve grown up, being unable to continue the tradition of going to Mass at Christmas (and during the year tbh) would feel strange. So I’m glad we’re able to do it while travelling still.
Then there’s the secular side of things. Santa Claus promoting gift-giving and receiving with the “season of goodwill” – or season of consumerism! 😛 I follow the guide of “something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need” when picking presents to give.
And the family traditions… each is different – and subject to change as circumstances change. Though this is where one feels a change the most.
When I was growing up, we’d open presents once everyone woke up on Christmas morning. We weren’t allowed to get up before 07:00 though. We might go to Mass at 09:00 or have gone the night before.
We’d have Christmas lunch at home and probably try out a few presents. The big event was in the evening. We’d head off to Grandma’s to see all the aunts, uncles and cousins on that side of the family. There’d be backyard cricket and games, plenty of talking and catching up, a large spread of dinner and dessert, then the family Kris Kringle.
If we weren’t at Grandma’s we’d have headed up north to see my other grandparents.
In recent years things have changed a little. I’ve moved away from the family home and I have a second family in my partner’s now too. I don’t know what the future holds, but last year had the feel of a new tradition being built. Not to replace the old entirely but to enhance it anew.
Then of course, there will always be years where circumstances are just different, full stop.
Like this year, where my Christmas might even be a white one.
There are more carols than the following but here goes. Favourites
Songs I learnt as four-part harmonies and sang with my choir this year.
- Away in a Manger
- Ding-Dong Merrily On High
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Good King Wenceslas
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing
- It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Carol of the Bells
- Silent Night
- O, Holy Night
- Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep
- The First Nowell
- The Shepherd’s Farewell
- Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Vaughn Williams, a beautiful one I sang last year)
- A Merry Christmas To You (/ Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
Went to 22:00 mass and everything was in Japanese. But the parts of the Mass were familiar, and some songs sung were carols. If I had had the phonetic writing of words instead of just the Japanese characters in front of me, I could’ve sung them as I knew the tunes.
- Come All Ye Faithful
- Angels from the Realms of Glory
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- O Holy Night
- Joy to the World