Syncretism

Sunday, 25 December 2005 23:21
strange_complex: (Lord S not unenlightened)
Yesterday evening, I went with my family to a carol-singing gathering on Bournville Village Green, led by a local church called St. Francis'. (Full write-up of last year's equivalent event here). We met up with Fleur WINOLJ and her mum, and the six of us stood together in the crowd, giggling as we attempted to sing along to the accompaniment of a carillon which we could only just hear, and which sometimes played faster than we were expecting, and sometimes slower.

Then Silent Night came up. Somehow, no-one was singing out of time any more. The melody was slow and simple, and the singing was suffused with a kind of reverent hush. For the second verse, the carol-sheet instructed us all to raise the lanterns we had brought. And so we did. Everything from candles in jam-jars to battery-powered camping lamps appeared above warmly-hatted heads. And we sang:

"Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light:
Radiance beams from thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace..."
Etc., etc.

Afterwards, we lowered our lanterns back down into the crowd. "See?" I said to Fleur. "The sun will come again."

"Change the spelling a bit," she said, "and the Christians would agree with you."

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
I'll probably never be Santa again after tonight. I don't ever intend to have children of my own, you see. But tonight - for one night only - I am he.

I'm 29 years old, and it's finally been decided in our house that it really is time now to let go of the Christmas morning stockings. And for this one last year, as a way of marking the passing of the practice, we decided to invert it (very Saturnalian!). So Charlotte and I have just spent a lovely half-hour sitting together in the lounge, sipping Rémy Martin, chatting, and stuffing chocolates, hankies and satsumas into big fluffy socks. One for Mum, one for Dad. They're laid out now on either side of the fire-place, ready for the recipients to come down and find them in the morning.

I suppose this is the growing process in a nutshell, isn't it? As a child, you experience the magic. As a young person, you see the reality behind it, but still play along for the sake of its more prosaic benefits. Finally, you become the source of the magic yourself. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
strange_complex: (Lee as M.R. James)
So, dusk has fallen on Christmas Eve, and here I am, up in Brum with my family. It's somehow taken me a while to 'slot in' to the Christmas spirit this year. Too distracted with book stuff and the unpleasant prospect of term starting again on January 4th, I guess. But it's falling into place now that we're all together here, the tree's been decorated and I've made my usual spray of winter greenery to go over the fireplace. Later on, we'll be going off to sing carols on Bournville Village Green, just as we did last year, so I'm sure that'll do the trick.

Last night, we attended "Christmas by Candlelight", an annual choral concert given by Ex Cathedra in St. Paul's Church, Birmingham. It was OK, but while Ex Cathedra usually tend to gravitate towards early / Baroque music, the repertoire last night was for some reason about 80% modern, and hence not entirely to my tastes. I knew we were in trouble when I scanned down the list of pieces, and noticed how many of the composers had birth-dates after their names, but not death-dates. Bully for them, but I like my composers dead, thanks. I couldn't help but sit there thinking of the concert of bawdy 17th-century Christmas music performed by the Oxford Waits which I was missing in order to be there...

And the night before, I went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23. I enjoyed it, but wasn't as bowled over as I'd expected to be. The special effects were great, obviously, and certainly much better than the poor old BBC could manage back in 1988. I also very much liked the handling of the battle sequences, and both the home of the White Witch and the castle at Cair Paravel, while I felt that all four children were well-characterised, well-cast and well-acted. But, while Disney have made stellar leaps forward in recent years in terms of recognising that sometimes preserving the inherent Britishness in a story can actually be a good thing (compare their shabby treatment of Winnie the Pooh, which sadly is still ongoing), all the same there was a little more 'Disneyfication' going on than I'd really have liked. I just don't need wise-cracking animals. Ever. Thanks. In that respect, the old BBC series scores more highly. What a pity they just never had the budget or the slick production values of the new film.

Well, Fleur WINOLJ has just rung to say she and her mother will be meeting us on the Green at Bournville. I'm pretty excited now! Time to go off and make sure we have a decent lantern to take with us.

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