Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Carol's Carol!

As we continue to look forward to Christmas, today's blog will examine a holiday song and some traditions from the Scottish culture! I found an entertaining letter from a "real" Scot, and I think you will enjoy how other people celebrate Christmas around the world! So, on behalf of Carolyn Russell, Gerald King, Bob Cassady, and all the rest of you from Scottish descent, I present this beautiful Christmas carol and informative and humorous article!

This concert took place in Elgin Town Hall, Scotland

 When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

There is no life - no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

You raise me up... To more than I can be.


What is Christmas in Scotland really like? The following article was written by a young Scotswoman willing to share with Americans how the Scots celebrate Christmas.

One of the most unusual facts about Scottish Christmas traditions is they haven't been around very long. For nearly 400 years, the celebration of Christmas as we know it was banned in Scotland. It's no wonder that the Scottish New Year's festival, Hogmanay, is a days'-long party.

The Banning of "Christ's Mass"

The people of the United Kingdom were oppressed by Oliver Cromwell in the mid-1600s. During a period known as the Reformation, Parliament issued the ban in 1647, and upheld it for nearly 15 years.
When Cromwell fell from grace, the ban was lifted in the most of the U.K., but not in Scotland. The Scottish Presbyterian Church continued to discourage Christmas holiday festivities, including formal Mass, and people suffered penalties if caught celebrating. This ban lasted for nearly 400 years.
The acknowledgment of Christmas was a quiet, reverent affair bookmarked by church services and hard work. Well into the 20th century, Scots worked on Christmas day. Few adults exchanged presents, although children received small treats and tokens. There would be a light Christmas dinner. Some families had small evergreens in the home, or decorated doorways with boughs of holly.
Finally, in the late 1950s, Christmas and the U.K. tradition of Boxing Day became recognized holidays for the Scottish people.

Scottish Christmas Traditions Past and Present

One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for so many years included the baking of Yule bread. During the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name of anyone requesting this holiday staple. A loaf of unleavened bread is baked for each individual in the family, and the person who finds a trinket in his or her loaf will have good luck all year.
Divination was once a popular custom. On Christmas Eve, a single person cracked an egg into a cup. The shape of the egg white determined the profession of the possible mate. The egg was mixed into a cake, and if the cake cracked during baking, the person would have bad luck in the next year. Sweeping fireplace ashes and reading them as a fortune teller would read tea leaves was also common.
Many Scots still burn a twig of the rowen tree at Christmas as a way to clear away bad feelings of jealousy or mistrust between family members, friends, or neighbors.
The first visitor to a home on Christmas Day was called the First Footer. The person must bear gifts of peat, money, and bread to symbolize warmth, wealth, and lack of want. This later became a New Year's Day tradition, however. Placing candles in the window to welcome a stranger is a long-upheld Scottish Christmas tradition. By honoring the visit of a stranger in the night, you honor the Holy Family, who searched for shelter the night of Christ's birth.
Once the ban on Christmas was lifted, the Scottish adapted many of the Christmas traditions used in England and the U.S. Today, the Scots celebrate with festive Christmas trees and presents for all. Great dinners include mounds of Scottish shortbread, mashed turnips, and roasted turkey or venison stew. In addition to Yule bread, families may also make a Black Bun, or Twelfth Night Cake. Similar to a fruitcake, it has thick pastry and is packed with spices, fruit, nuts...and more than a dash of whiskey! (You gotta love that!)

As we celebrate Christmas this year, may we reflect on how Christ lifts us up during the hard and troubling times we encounter. It is in these times, when we call upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that he raises us by his power and enables us to continue to walk the walk of faith regardless of the circumstances! May we also remember our brothers and sisters scattered all over the world who are forbidden to celebrate Christmas because of religious or political persecution! Like the Scots, may God grant them the freedoms to celebrate this wonderful holiday in remembrance of his son Jesus Christ and what his birth means to all mankind!

Nollaig Shona Dhuit!
Stay Holy, My Friends!


Pastor Don

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