The Midnight Eucharist will also be held at The service will run until 1am. For those looking to travel further abroad, midnight mass is also held in Bethlehem - widely believed to be the birthplace of Jesus. The services are generally held in French, but tourists can also appreciate the historical building's grandeur. Sign in. All Football. The memory lingers. At that midnight Mass, the incense soaked into my skin and became a part of me, forever cementing the emotions that came with that night, a physical reminder that, even if we enter the Mass as strangers, we are all intimately connected to each other through prayer.
On Christmas, God comes not for a select few but to reveal His love to the whole world. The chance to return this love is the reason so many crowd into the church.
The feeling of being awake and praying while the rest of the world is asleep is a loosely kept secret shared by those who have journeyed to what is essentially a living manger scene. These are people who have heard the angels exulting and made haste to discover the reason why.
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Inside is light and candles and warmth, outside is cold and snow. Midnight Mass draws us to our spiritual home and is the perfect way to wait through the night and allow Christmas day to reveal itself. Midnight Mass is a light in the dark, a beacon of hope that there is a love so strong that even in our darkest moments God is with us.
And so, like shepherds bundled up against the chill of the fields, we arrive as pilgrims to an unknown destination. Whatever it is a person thinks will be found at midnight Mass, we know that we will find the God who has made His home in each of our hearts. Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life.
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Silent night, hopeful night: Why Christmas Eve is most magical time of year
More from Aleteia Marzena Devoud. Dominika Cicha and Marzena Devoud. Philip Kosloski. Not Prepared to Donate?
Midnight Christmas Eve Service
IF you make a wish this Christmas Eve, you will be following in a tradition that dates back thousands of years, and perhaps far longer. The dreams invested in the stars drifting silently above our distant ancestors would not, of course, have involved gifts, stockings or fervent hopes that the turkey might have defrosted by morning. Go back far enough and they wouldn't even have been connected to Christ's birth, whose anniversary wasn't fixed in late December until around AD. Wishing, however, appears to have been integral to the pagan celebrations that predated Christmas in the northern hemisphere.
And the most fervent hope of all at this darkest point in the calendar was probably simply that spring, and light, would return. In these street-lit, centrally heated times, it's hard to imagine how hard life must have been during long, dark months when even candles were scarce commodities and death from flu, starvation or hypothermia was never far away. The heart-felt yearning for light is reflected in the peculiar traditions that continue to be observed, albeit in a slightly different form, on Christmas Eve.
Coming a few days after the winter solstice which this year fell last night , December 24 isn't a public holiday, yet it contains more magic and portent than any of the festival's 12 official days. The idea that marvellous things happen on this enchanted night is wonderfully evoked in Thomas Hardy's poem, The Oxen.
On any other day of the year, the poem continues, few would entertain the notion that a shed full of cattle might kneel down on the straw in an agrarian echo of the Nativity. An apparent manifestation of the belief that animals take on human characteristics on Christmas Eve continues in Denmark, where it's customary to go for a Christmas Eve walk equipped with treats for the animals you might meet: a throwback or so it's been speculated to attempts to appease creatures that might otherwise speak ill of you on that enchanted night.
Midnight Mass - Wikipedia
Almost certainly the precursor to the Christmas tree, the Yule log's origins are pre-medieval and believed to be linked to the sacred role of trees in Nordic paganism. Yule is the name of the winter solstice festivals once held across northern Europe Jul remains the term for Christmas in Denmark, Norway and Sweden; the Finnish word is Joulu. The log was cut down on the morning of the winter solstice or later, on Christmas Eve and brought into the house, though the fact it's said to have been a whole tree trunk makes me wonder if it was burned in a great hall or communal area rather than individual homes.
It's generally agreed that the log was ignited in the evening using a remnant of the previous year's log, and according to some accounts, one end would be pushed into the fire and ceremonially burnt and the remainder fed in over the duration of the festive period.
The remnants were then stored to protect the house against lightning and evil spirits, and to light the following year's log. The ashes were thought to have magical and medicinal qualities. One account of the old ritual holds that on Christmas Eve, the youngest person present would light two candles from the burning Yule log, then everyone would make a wish for the coming year. You might want to close your eyes if following this tradition, since it's said that if the shadows cast by the blazing log appear to be headless, death will come calling in the months to come.
If your mantelpiece is already festooned with holly, ivy and mistletoe, then I'm sorry to dampen the mood but it's supposed to be unlucky to bring greenery into the house until Christmas Eve. Be of good cheer, though: the winter foliage tradition is probably older than Christianity, which means December 24 is an arbitrary date so far as Yuletide spirits are concerned. At one time, holly was grown near homes in the hope that witches and evil spirits would be trapped in its dense, prickly foliage. The plant — and its festive partner, ivy — were associated with fertility: holly was male, ivy female and the leaves were burnt together at the pagan festival of Beltane, presumably in order to promote fecundity and a bounteous harvest the following year.
During some winter festivals, a young girl clothed in ivy would parade around the village with a holly-clad boy, in order to bring life and fertility to the darkest time of the year. This parasitical plant remains green after the host tree has become bare and apparently lifeless, which may explain the ancient belief in its magical properties: druids would cut it from oak trees using a golden sickle for use in rituals and medicine.
Legend has it that mistletoe was once a tree in its own right.