No Saints or Antiphons; the Christian world awaits the birth of the Savior. And tonight begins the Festival of Lights, the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.
Before the reforms of the Vatican II Council (1965), the Church celebrated the Christmas Vigil Mass, the Mass at Midnight, the Mass at Dawn, and the Mass During the Day. The celebration of the Vigil Mass was considered to occur before Christmas, with the other Masses being considered the Christmas Masses. Today, the Vigil is a true Christmas Mass (often a parish will have two Christmas Vigil masses) and the Mass at Midnight is now the Mass During the Night, to be celebrated anytime between 9:00 pm Christmas Eve and 4:00 am Christmas Day; after 4:00 am the Mass at Dawn is celebrated, and all celebrations later in the day are celebrated as the Mass During the Day. (My parish church will have two Vigil masses, the Mass During the Night at 10:00 pm, the Mass at Dawn at 7:00 am, and two Masses During the Day.) In 1914 an unofficial Christmas Truce took place between British and German troops in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, after a call earlier that year by Pope Benedict XV for an official truce between the warring governments had been ignored. The following year, a few units arranged ceasefires, but the truces were not nearly as widespread as in 1914; this was, in part, due to strongly worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting fraternisation. And on December 24, 1968, in what was the most watched television broadcast to that date, the astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman of Apollo 8 surprised the world with a reading of the Creation account from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. In 1969 the United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp (Scott #1371) to commemorate the Apollo 8 mission and the reading. Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an atheist activist, responded by suing the United States government, alleging violations of the First Amendment. The suit was dismissed by the Supreme Court due to lack of jurisdiction. As of sunset tonight we begin the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. It is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah or Hanukiah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of nine branches. An extra light called a shamash is also lit each night for the purpose of lighting the others, and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The shamash symbolically supplies light that may be used; the normal lights cannot be used for any other purpose, but the shamash may be used to light other candles. So I wish a Hanukkah Sameach to all of my Jewish Faithful Readers and Followers!
On Friday night our New Orleans Pelicans won their NBA game with the Miami Heat by the score of 91 to 87; our New Orleans Pelicans (11-21, 0-6) will play a home NBA game with the Dallas Mavericks (9-21, 1-6) on Monday, December 26th.
On getting up for work I posted to Facebook that it was Christmas Eve, and did my Book Devotional Reading. When we left for work I remembered to bring the Deviled Eggs with me. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading, said the Ninth Day of my Christmas Novena, and said the Fourth Day of my Holy Family Novena. Today was the Graveyard Shift Pot Luck Dinner. After we clocked in an attended the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on Pai Gow. I was the Relief dealer for Macau Mini Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow, then the Relief dealer for Mini Baccarat and Pai Gow, then the Relief dealer for the Sit-Down Blackjack table, Mini Baccarat, and Pai Gow. While we were at work Liz Ellen took Widget to the local nursing home and got a pumpkin pie at Wal-Mart.
After work Richard picked up a prescription at the Pharmacy. As soon as we got home I changed my clothes, and Liz Ellen and I went down to Crowley, where we ate a very good lunch at Fezzo’s. After taking photos with the stone alligator outside we headed back home. Richard got a call from Matthew, which he put on speaker phone. We got Christmas cards from my friend Dago in Mississippi, my friend Linda in West Virginia, my friend Ann in Missouri, and my friends Moe and Ceil in West Virginia. By this time it was past two pm, and I read the morning paper. I was feeling sick, and after I set up my medications for tomorrow (no prescriptions to renew), Liz Ellen went to the 4:00 pm Mass for Christmas, and I went to bed. Our New Orleans Saints won their divisional NFL game with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers by the score of 31 to 24; our New Orleans Saints (7-8, 2-3) will play their last regular season NFL game with the Atlanta Falcons (10-5, 4-1) on Sunday, January 1st, 2017. I did not set our my Hanukkah candles, I did not light my Advent Candles, I did not go to Mass for Christmas (a Holy Day of Obligation), I did not have people move vehicles so that I could set out the luminarira candles down our front walk and along the street, I did not light my Hanukkah candles, I did not light the. Luminarira candles, and I did not do my Daily Update, all of which upsets me greatly.
Tomorrow is the Solemnity of Christmas (Alleluia!), a Holy Day of Obligation for the faithful, and the First Day in the Octave of Christmas. In the secular world, tomorrow is the First Day of Christmas. We will work our full eight hours at the casino on the last day of the two week pay period; it is a Heavy Business Volume Day, and a Paid Holiday, so we will be paid time and a half for our hours worked. We will not try to get out early, because we would have no chance, so no Mass for me tomorrow. Instead, I will do my Daily Update on my tablet. Once at home I will set up my Hanukkah candles and prepare Liz Ellen’s monthly package for her. At some point we will do presents and eat Christmas dinner. And tomorrow at sunset is the Second Day of Hanukkah.
This Christmas Eve evening and first night of Hanukkah brings us a Parting Quote from Harold Pinter, English playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, political activist and poet. Born in 1930 in Hackney, East London, to Jewish parents, after publishing poetry and acting in school plays as a teenager in London, he began his professional theatrical career in 1951, touring Ireland and then performing in repertory throughout England for several years. Beginning with his first play, The Room (1957), Pinter’s writing career spanned over 50 years and produced 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays, many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays, poetry, one novel, short fiction, essays, speeches, and letters. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party (1957), The Caretaker (1959), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted to film. His screenplay adaptations of others’ works include The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He directed almost 50 stage, television, and film productions and acted extensively in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others’ works. In 1981, Pinter stated that he was not inclined to write plays explicitly about political subjects; yet in the mid-1980s he began writing overtly political plays. This “new direction” in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate. Pinter received numerous awards, including the Tony Award for Best Play in 1967 for The Homecoming, the BAFTA awards, the French Légion d’honneur, and 20 honorary degrees. Festivals and symposia were devoted to him and his work. In awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, the Swedish Academy note “That he occupies a position as a modern classic is illustrated by his name entering the language as an adjective used to describe a particular atmosphere and environment in drama: ‘Pinteresque’”. Despite frail health after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December of 2001, Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role of Samuel Beckett’s one-act monologue Krapp’s Last Tape for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre in October 2006 (died 2008): “US foreign policy could be best defined as follows: kiss my arse or I’ll kick your head in. It is as simple and as crude as that. It can hardly be said to be a complicated foreign policy. What is interesting about it is that it is so incredibly successful.”