Die zwei Geschichten zu Weihnachten, die ich im Crossover Chat erzählt habe, passen hier eigentlich auch schön rein:
For me, Christmas Eve was very special this year. A Turkish friend of Goldammerson's (university student in Germany) will be flying to Turkey later today to see her family for a few days. She suddenly realized that she would be totally alone on Christmas Eve because all her flat mates and friends were at home with their families, so we invited her. She comes from a Muslim background but is totally not religious. She was very curious and excited about being part of a traditional German Christmas celebration. This made me very aware of all the rituals we have around it, and I enjoyed them so much more for it.
One of them: after reading out the Christmas story from the Bible, I go into the other room where the Christmas tree is and light the candles (yes, we have real candles) on the tree, the window sill and at the crèche. This room was locked before, so nobody has been in it since the day before when we decorated the tree. When I'm done, I turn off the light, so only the candles are illuminating the room, and then I ring a tiny bell hanging in the tree. This is the signal for the "children" and Mr Goldammer to come in. It was just so amazing to see how Goldammerson's friend saw a Christmas tree with real candles for the first time - she was absolutely stunned and speechless, and this was so wonderful for me to watch!
I'm in a team of people who organize evening services in our church. Yesterday, we had a service where we mainly sang many carols (we found out about the 8 most popular ones of the congregation by letting them vote on a list of 20 presented to them at the entrance and made a "hit parade", singing them in the course of the service down from #8 to #1). Inbetween, we read texts about Joseph who is often a kind of background character in the Christmas story.
My part was about a medieval tradition which has later disappeared completely: there can be found many paintings which show Joseph as an involved and active person around the birth of his (later adopted) son: he helps the midwife preparing Jesus' first bath, he cooks a baby mash by a fire - and the one I really liked best: he takes off his stockings to make them into diapers, and I even found a picture where he can be seen behind the stable washing the diapers!
In the 17th century, a strong movement of adoration of Joseph came up, and it seemed to them inappropriate to depict the saint doing humble household chores such as cooking or handling diapers – so, in the baroque period, you won’t find any such paintings any more…..
I also found out why Joseph is almost always shown as a very old man. The bible says nothing about his age – but there’s an early Coptic text which describes him as 90 years old, and Mary as 12, probably to stress the story oft he virginity of Mary in their relationship….and obviously, this idea has formed the images of Joseph ever since….