Tag Archives: ADVENT

Advent Calendar 2017: Day One!

wreath

I last fashioned a blog advent calendar approximately 300 years ago, with a modicum of planning and pretensions to festive continuity. This year, I’m emerging from eight weeks of twenty-four tutorials, twelve lectures, five seminars, and one short-trade-book-coming-out-in-January (of which more soon!), to a weekend’s pause before we enter the frenetically flapjack-fuelled Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, aka Admissions. If anyone finds this because they’re facing university interviews over the next fortnight – especially anyone hastening to the deer park + river + gargoyles palooza – hello, best of luck, we’re all rooting for you and I do remember what it was like. I genuinely love admissions, what with my Dream Team Co-Interviewer (whose daily etymologies are the purest thing on Twitter), the v. many bright young candidates, and the flapjacks.

Given the above, what could be better than committing to a daily bout of Advent blogpost goodness? Treat that question as rhetorical. I miss blogging, I like December, and nestled in the ensuing chaos of YouTubed Muppets and disturbing Scandiwegian frost-folk will be a genuine attempt to mark and benefit from Advent, the loveliest season of the year (even if the Thames Valley climate soon drives me to a reversed balaclava). I might borrow from other Advent preparation blogs, I will certainly bang on about my preferred charitable causes (poverty, homelessness, gender and sexual equality), and in extremis I might even be driven to cook (or, as my wife suggests, “write about how [I] hated all the wrapping paper [she] bought, then admitted it wasn’t so bad”).

When trying to find a theme for this post, I noted that it is the patronal feast of St Eligius, the patron saint of goldsmiths and jewellers – which makes it a good day to buy something sparkly. Or even FIVE GOLD RINGS (…segue…). The best and most bizarre YouTube video available shows Montserrat Caballe and a dozen peaky, toothy choirboys weeshing us a Merry Chreestmas from Beaulieu Palace House for the edification of one old man and some shoulderpads. For what initially seems like a more orthodox alternative, let Wells Cathedral coax you into the festive season.

Stick around? Happy Advent!

 

Advent Calendar Day 9: Hamlet!

Marcellus:
[…]Some say that ever, ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

Horatio:
So have I heard and do in part believe it.
[…]

Hamlet, I.1.181-188.

2009 filmed version of the RSC production of Hamlet dir. Greg Doran; I.1. Peter de Jersey as Horatio; Keith Osborn as Marcellus; Ewen Cummins as Barnardo; Robert Curtis as Francisco.

Copyright RSC / Illuminations / BBC.

(when I worked in FOH for the stage version of this production, Keith Osborn and Peter de Jersey’s delivery of these lines were one of my favourite moments in the play – it was the mixture of chill and comfort)

n.b. I am not suggesting anyone should have A Very Hamlet Christmas. It would not end well.

Advent Calendar Day 8: Guadalupe!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2c/Virgen_de_guadalupe1.jpg/275px-Virgen_de_guadalupe1.jpg This image shows Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most famous icons of the Virgin Mary, and Mexico’s most celebrated religious image.

I’ve included it because it displays Mary as Christians think of her during Advent: pregnant with the baby Jesus. I am not an authority on art, but the reason we know she’s pregnant is not because of any changes to her body, but because of the black ribbon wrapped round her dress in an empire-line; this was the traditional Mexican indicator of pregnancy at the time the icon was produced (the sixteenth century).

The icon is housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, north of Mexico City. The Basilica is close to the location where Catholics believe Mary appeared to the indigenous Native American, Juan Diego (1474-1548).

Exterior view of the modern Basilica of Our La...

Exterior view of the modern Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hat tip to Br. Stephen Morrison of the Norbertines of St. Philip’s Priory, whose “Devotional Images for Advent” got me interested in images of the pregnant Mary (again – when I was little I used to love drawing a v. pregnant Mary on the back of a much smaller donkey. And poor old Joseph).

Advent Calendar Day 2: Frankfurt!

Picture: Michael Probst/AP

Picture: Michael Probst/AP

The Christmas market opens in Roemerberg square in Frankfurt, Germany (poor things, getting rained on…).