Tuesday, December 8, 2015

IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop

Today is my day for the IndieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop and I'm very excited about it. It has been a wonderful trip through the blogs so far, full of interesting stories. I am very proud that my book, The Black Swans, was awarded an IndieBRAG Medallion. The Black Swans is based on the Irish story of The Children of Lir, so I thought it apropos to talk about some of the Celtic customs that the Irish celebrate at Christmas time.

In many parts of Ireland barns and outbuildings are still whitewashed, a holdover from older times when buildings were cleaned to purify them to welcome the coming savior. Houses were decorated with holly and ivy. You wanted to find a holly bush that contained many berries as that signified good luck in the coming year. 

Christmas decorations are kept up until January 6th, or Little Women's Christmas. On this day women can leave their housekeeping and go out with each other to have fun. This is still celebrated especially in the Western part of Ireland.

Many families leave a candle in the window to welcome the Holy Family. They might also leave a mince pie and a Guinness out on Christmas Eve for Santa instead of the milk and cookies that we leave for him.

The Winter Solstice is also an important day in Ireland. December 21st is the day that the Oak King of summer must battle his twin, the Holly King. The Holly King always wins the battle and rules until the Summer Solstice. The Holly King was a giver of gifts, helping people to live through the harsh winter months, and is one of the earliest incarnations of Santa Claus.

Tuesdays on this blog are also known as Traditional Tuesday where I showcase a traditional Celtic song. Today I picked The Wexford Carol sung by Irish singer Loreena McKennitt.

The Wexford Carol is a traditional Irish Christmas carol. It is also known as 'The Enniscorthy Carol' and 'Carul Loch Garman'. The tune goes back to the 12th century though the lyrics are newer. 

The Wexford Carol - Lyrics
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is tomorrow, December 9 with Cheri Gillard, so be sure to hop along and see what Cheri has in store for you.

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