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Holy Daze: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th, 2012) – Catholic Christian

October 3rd, 2012 No comments
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Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Coyoacan, Federal District, Mexico

St. Francis of Assisi was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher born in the 12th century.  Despite being born into wealth, he dedicated his life to living in poverty and prayer.   He was known to wander and minister to lepers.  St. Francis was also known for his love of animals.  He is often depicted surrounded by birds and other animals.  Today, he is considered the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.  To commemorate this holy day, many churches offer blessings to pets.  Below you’ll find a short video about this popular saint.  In the second short video, you’ll see a large gathering of people and their pets lining up to receive blessings.

M. xo

Saint Francis of Assisi

Church day for pets

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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Categories: Religion Tags: , ,

Holy Daze: Meskel (September 27th, 2012) – Ethiopian Orthodox Christian

September 26th, 2012 No comments
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Meskel is an annual religious festival celebrated in Ethiopian Orthodox and Eritrean Orthodox Churches to commemorate Saint Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) finding the True Cross (the cross upon which Jesus was crucified).  Typical celebrations include dancing, colourful processions, feasting and the lighting of a giant bonfire known as a Demera.  The lighting of the bonfire symbolizes how Saint Helena located the True Cross, by following smoke that led her to its location (although the myth surrounding the sources of this smoke seems to vary).  Meskel is an annual public holiday in Ethiopia.  It is a colourful and lively display that culminates in the most amazing spectacle of fire.  Check out this video that strings together an entire day into night of Meskel celebrations.  The end is quite spectacular, especially if you love the site of a great bonfire and fireworks.  Although, I suspect we couldn’t get away with quite so extravagant a bonfire in Canadian cottage country.

M. xo

Meskel Festival Highlights:

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When did Christmas stop being a Holiday?

December 3rd, 2011 3 comments
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The real war on christmas

It’s that time of year again. No sooner do the first snow flakes fall and the rhetoric around whether it’s appropriate to replace “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas” begins to fly. It’s one of the most divisive issues surrounding this season.

Firstly, there are the annual campaigns via email and social media promoting the “put the Christ back in Christmas” polemic. I’ve always found this particular argument curious. Last time I checked, Christ hadn’t left Christmas. What has changed is that fewer people are celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday — if at all. Christmas is still a Christian derived holy day, and Jesus is still very much a part of that day for those who follow his teachings. For believers, Christ is present and accounted for in the celebration of this holy day.

Following this are the claims that somehow Christmas has been hijacked by other cultures’ religions. The arguments usually follow the reasoning that because we live in a Western society built on the Judeo-Christian tradition that Christmas should take it’s rightful place as the holiday of the land.

XMASWARS1

It’s true that our heritage is that of a Judeo-Christian tradition, but our heritage also includes unequal rights for women and minority groups, child labour, the assimilation of First Nation’s people… need I go on?

Societies evolve, and for us this has included the separation of church and state.  Citizens are free to practice the religion of their choice.  States, however, are required to keep religion out of its affairs (in principle anyway). It’s a bit ironic that so many Westerners have much to say about Eastern nations living under religious rule, yet so little to say about the idea of forcing Christmas on ever person living in this hemisphere.

So, we’ve reverted to calling Christmas a holiday. What’s so wrong with that? It IS a HOLY day for Christians, but it’s also a HOLY time of year for a number of other religious groups. Using the term “Happy Holidays” is merely an inclusive way to wish everyone a joyous season — and really isn’t that what this time of year is all about?  Shouldn’t we be trying to spread joy and our very best to everyone?

Christmas-vs-Holidays-Holidays

It’s interesting that while so many of us have been debating this tiresome rhetoric, that we’ve failed to notice how the sacredness of this holy season has been hijacked by rampant consumerism.  Maybe those are the real issues we should be examining.  Why has a holy day meant to bring families and people together in joyful spirit become a sacred day for big box stores and credit card companies?  Just something worth thinking about…

Happy HOLY-DAYS!

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