Hello, thank you for dropping in. Well, it's been a bit of a week, hasn't it? On Sunday 3rd January I watched the Prime Minister on television telling us all that the primary schools would definitely be reopening the following day, and secondary schools would be open to all pupils a fortnight later, so that evening the Best Beloved ironed a shirt, got his "uniform" ready and set the alarm for 6.30am in case his services would be required. The following evening, after many pupils and staff had spent a day in school, sharing whatever they had caught from the people they mixed with during the holiday, I watched Boris on television as he told us all that we were going into lockdown again and that schools would only be open for vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers. Here we go again. Later that evening the Best Beloved suggested that we leave the Christmas tree up until Candlemas on 2nd February! I was very surprised as I've been light-heartedly proposing this for the last eight years or so, ever since I discovered that it was traditionally proper, and he's always dismissed the idea out of hand. We usually take the tree down on 5th January but this year, we didn't. I was delighted - and at a bit of a loose end, locked down and with little else to do, but we spent the day talking things through and trying to formulate a plan to help us through the coming weeks.
Wednesday was 6th January, Epiphany, the day to celebrate the visit of the magi to the holy family, and I duly placed my little wooden figures in the crib and we chalked the door.
Do you know about chalking the door? I didn't until three or four years ago. I did it for the first time last year and I felt that it placed a satisfying full stop at the end of Christmas.
The letters CMB have two meanings: they are the traditional initials of the magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, and they also abbreviate the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “21” at the end mark this year. The format is the same every year and once I had written the figures, I said a short prayer asking Christ to bless those who live in or visit our home throughout the coming year. In some churches, sticks of chalk are blessed during the service on the Sunday before Epiphany and given to the congregation to take home and use to chalk their doors but I've never been to a church which does that and I thought that God wouldn't mind if I used unblessed chalk. According to a report in The Telegraph there has been a rise in the practice this year and I wonder if that's because we feel more in need of blessings during the pandemic?
During the afternoon I made a willow star using a kit I bought online just before Christmas. It felt appropriate for Epiphany. All I needed to supply was a pair of scissors and a bit of sticky tape and I spent a very enjoyable hour or so at the kitchen table. Once I'm ready to take it down it can be easily dismantled and packed away ready for next year.
On Saturday we decided that the Christmas tree really couldn't stay up until Candlemas because it had become very dry and with an open fire in the room, it was a fire hazard. I took a fond photo. One of my favourite things to do at Christmas is to sit in this room in the evening with a glass of wine and watch something good on the television in the glow provided by fairy lights, firelight and candlelight.
On Sunday I slipped out of bed while the Best Beloved was sleeping and began to take off the decorations and pack them away. Surprisingly, the task didn't make me feel as sad as it usually does. I had been very half-hearted about this tree from the outset, the Best Beloved had bought it by himself, ignoring my request and buying a tree which was bigger than I wanted, and I resented the tree a little for its size. More than that, I hadn't placed The Mathematician's own, special decorations on the tree because she was unable to come home for Christmas and I couldn't bear to have them up without her being here, although then I missed those decorations and the tree felt incomplete without them. I mean, how can it really have been Christmas without the Christmas Dragonfly she made when she was a Brownie, or the silver snowflake she made in a D&T class at school???
Things feel a little strange today. The front room feels bleaker without the Christmas tree, although we have kept out all our tealight holders and lanterns so there is still plenty of Christmas cheer, and the willow star is shining. Perhaps some wise men will turn up? I think our Prime Minister could do with their help.
I wish you all a happy and hopeful new year.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x
I usually leave one of my nativity scenes out until Candlemas but not the tree. Until 6th January the shepherds are near the Holy Family and the magi with their camel are somewhere else in the house on their journey. On 6th January the shepherds and most of the sheep move a little distance from the crib and the Magi move in to do their bit. I love the idea of chalking the door.ReplyDelete
I do the same with my crib, I'm always allowed to keep it out until Candlemas and I think it would be quite rude to put it away when the magi and camels have only just arrived! I know a few people who chalked their doors for the first time this year. xDelete
I have never come across chalking the doors before, what a wonderful thing to do.ReplyDelete
Isn't it? Even my atheist husband is happy for me to do it, and to join in a bit - he holds a lighted candle while I do the chalking and the prayer. xDelete
Your willow star is beautiful. I can quite understand your feelings. I think now is the time for lots of candles and a few fairy lights if you have some. Lots of reading and crafting too. Keep busy. B xReplyDelete
Thank you Barbara. Oh yes, the fairy lights are definitely still up and I have a decent knitting project and a very large book to work on. xDelete
I first learned about chalking a house a few years ago and on our last trip to Europe noticed several chalked houses in Central Europe. It's a lovely tradition and one to emulate. We've kept up some fairy lights and I love sitting in the living room reading or stitching with the glow of them on the mantel. Best wishes to you as you navigate this latest lockdown.ReplyDelete
Thanks Lorrie. I am finding this lockdown much more difficult, although I am allowed to see my daughter and grandchildren this time because I provide essential childcare when they need it. xDelete
Our tree met the same fate...after longing for it to stay unil Candlemas...next year it will not be going up so early! xReplyDelete
Mine went up on the day of the solstice (I think I got that idea from you a few years ago) so it couldn't have gone up much later, but in a small room with an open fire it really couldn't cope any longer. xDelete
Well you remained sensible...I was persuaded by hubby to put it up earlier this year, and regretted it every day until the Solstice! xDelete
There seems to be a lag in the system as your post has just appeared. I love your star, beautiful. I haven't heard about the chalking on the door either. I should think so many people are disappointed that plans can't continue at the moment but this is the worst period for us to have to go through in this ever changing situation. Let's all stay at home for a few more weeks, get our vaccination and life will improve. xReplyDelete
I absolutely agree with you, I'm happy to stay at home until I receive the vaccination summons. I have plenty of yarn and books so I'll be fine! xDelete
Oh yes, Boris could do with all the help he can get! I've never heard of chalking the door before, so many traditions which are sadly dying out.ReplyDelete
I first saw chalk marks on the door of a church four years ago and didn't initially realise that it was something people used to do on their own front doors. I think it went out with the Victorians. xDelete
I love your willow star. It's seems a good year to leave some of the festive lights and decorations out for a while longer, I notice one or two people down the street have left their twinkling lights on. I too had never heard of chalking the door what a lovely tradition:)ReplyDelete
Thanks Rosie. I don't think I've ever been so grateful for twinkling lights in January as I have this year. xDelete
I have never heard of chalking the door! We missed our plough service on Sunday due to restrictions which was a shame. Jo xReplyDelete
I had never heard of Plough Sunday or Plough Monday until a few years ago, probably because I've always lived in mostly urban areas. xDelete
Maezinha passa na frente de minhas dificuldades e aflições.NOSSA SENHORA DE FATIMA ROGUAI POR NÒS que recorremos a vós.Maezinha eu te amo eternamente .amem e muito obrigado amem.ReplyDelete
Estou feliz pois diante de Jesus todos os dias posso refletir sobre a comunhão com Jesus Cristo redentor venha sobre todos o arrependimento de nossos pecados k são tantos misericórdia e piedade de todos nós senhor e pai de nosso senhor Jesus Cristo redentor venha sobre a cura dos corações ��ReplyDelete
I was surprised to hear that the Kings night is also celebrated in the UK too. keep well Amanda xReplyDelete
Amanda, I think that it's always been celebrated in Anglican churches, certainly my parish church was holding Epiphany parties thirty years ago, but I don't think it's really been celebrated in people's homes. xDelete