The “proper” observation of Advent and gender and class roles

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Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written an insightful blog post on the kerfuffle over the “proper” observation of Advent. While Advent is supposed to be a season of fasting and introspection, “Christmas creep” has taken it over, with luxury Advent calendars and office parties crowding out the quiet. There have been discussions of this phenomenon, and calls to resist, to focus on meditation and contemplation. Threfall-Holmes points out though, that in order to have the feasting season of Christmas, someone must prepare the feast.

Fast and feast is the cycle of the church year. We are often told to stop in the busyness of Christmas preparations as this should be a season of prayer and contemplation, not of busy activity to prepare for the coming feast – that comes later. But in a cycle of fast and feast, only the privileged – elite men, some elite women – could hold themselves wholly above the preparations for the coming feast. While you were fasting, praying, reading, contemplating the meaning of the season, ready to enjoy the contrast with the coming 12 days of feasting, who do you think was getting the feast ready? It simply isn’t possible – and even less in the past – to have 12 days of feasting without a good few weeks of baking and making and larder filling.

Threfall-Holmes reminds us that in the past, there were servants doing this preparation, and that now, the job falls primarily to women and lower-income people, and that demanding that we observe Advent “properly” simply “adds insult to injury.” By all means, take the time to be still, meditate, and contemplate the great mystery of Christmas, but don’t condemn those who must prepare the feast, who might need a daily treat and some cheerful carols to help them get through.

Please read the whole post here.

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Kim Najera
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Kim Najera

I always felt the advent journey was nothing like Lent, more like prepping for a huge party. Yes, proper attitude in reflecting on this notable arrival is important, but I can't imagine the Magi as they traveled to Bethlehem not enjoying the company of fellow travelers as they went on their way. Sitting around with others during periods of rest at various wells and villages, sharing their stories, a drink perhaps, meals and bread, as they traveled. For the magi, they had a mystical quest passed down from the divine to fulfill. Who wouldn't be intrigued by their story, and the gifts they would bring to that humble residence. We call it Merry Christmas for that reason. To celebrate God come to earth.

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Mary Anne Chesarek
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Mary Anne Chesarek

Thank you. I have grown a little weary of the yearly lecture about how I should avoid parties, Christmas carols, and decorating my house before 12/24. In my part of the country, December is cold and dark, and I need a little Christmas joy.

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