Two thousand years ago, the night of Jesus' birth was full of magic. The baby whose birth had been foretold hundreds of years before was born to a virgin. A star appeared in the sky, signaling His birth. An angel appeared to shepherds in the fields to tell them that they would find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. This baby would save the world from sin and restore a right relationship with the Father. Then the sky was filled with angels praising God. What could be more exciting than to spend Christmas Eve reflecting on the Savior's birth?
Still, through the ages, people have constructed their own beliefs about that night. Many are fantasy stories told to children. Others are superstitions that seem to give us control over or a look into future events.
- At the stroke of midnight all the farm animals begin to speak to one another and exchange secrets about humans. To attempt to spy on them is to risk your life or at least your own ability to speak.
- The dead rise up from their graves and kneel at the foot of the cemetery cross where they are awaited by the previous parish priest. The priest says the prayers for the Nativity aloud and the dead respond. When the mass is finished, the dead return to their graves.
- Dogs that howl will go mad within the coming year.
- Love and marriage:
- Women would melt lead and let it run through a key ring into cold water. As the lead re-hardened into shapes, they would guess the initials of their future husband, his profession, personality and even his appearance.
- Similar results would be received by filling a bowl with water and let it freeze on a window sill.
- Another method was to peel an apple, being careful to keep the peel intact - a continuous ribbon. Reform the peel in the shape of the apple, hold it above your head and throw it on the floor.
- A young woman would knock at the henhouse door. If a rooster crowed, she would marry within the year.
- Eat an apple on Christmas Eve and be healthy for the next year.
- Place shoes side by side to prevent quarrels in the family.
- A clear sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the next summer.
- Candles that are lit on Christmas Eve must be left burning and undisturbed until Christmas morning. If they go out or are disturbed, there will be a death in the house during the next year.
Christmas Eve is indeed a magical night. It is a time when I like to reflect on the gift of life that the Savior gave me and to know that the Father holds my life in His loving hands. He has plans for me - plans to prosper me and not to harm me - plans to give me hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
I'll leave the details to Him.
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