Prayer Over The Christmas Period
What not to miss over the Christmas period
After Christmas, we’ll be looking ahead to some of the anticipated highlights of 2015. But there’s also a wealth of interesting shows which are nearing the end of their run. Here are just a few exhibitions in the UK, Europe and USA that you might want to squeeze into your Christmas schedule before they close their doors…
For more exhibition listings, visit our Agenda section
Ursula von Rydingsvard and Fiona Banner
at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park until 4 January
Don’t miss these two very different, but equally spectacular, exhibitions at the YSP.
Von Rydingsvard’s large-scale wooden sculptures manage to feel monumental and intimate at once, while Fiona Banner’s Wp Wp Wp is characteristically dramatic: ‘If you’ve never stood directly beneath the moving rotor blades of a Chinook helicopter,’ writes Digby Warde-Aldam, ‘I strongly suggest you try it’. You have until 4 January to do so.
‘Ming: 50 years that changed China’
at the British Museum, London, until 5 January
This exhibition focuses on just 50 years of cultural production (the Ming dynasty itself lasted for 276), but brings together an impressive number of exceptional works. ‘The first thing that comes to mind at the mention of ‘Ming’ is blue and white porcelain; but the artistic creations of this flourishing early period were far more diverse’, writes Alice Williamson.
‘The Generous Georgian: Dr Richard Mead’
at the Foundling Museum, London, until 4 January
It’s been a big year for the Georgians, as numerous museums and galleries have celebrated the tercentenary with major exhibitions and events. The Foundling Museum has taken a close look at one of its most significant, but now largely unsung, benefactors, Dr Richard Mead. Katy Barrett visited the fascinating show, which closes on 4 January.
‘Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris’
at the William Morris Gallery, London, until 4 January
If the Pre-Raphaelites are more your thing, don’t miss ‘Rossetti’s Obsession’, a ‘small but fascinating exhibition’ that explores D.G. Rossetti’s preoccupation with his friend’s wife. William Morris himself, meanwhile, is the subject of an interesting show at the National Portrait Gallery, until 11 January.
at the Hayward Gallery, London, until 4 January
Contemporary artists attempt to navigate the digital cloud, with varying degrees of success, in the Hayward Gallery’s latest show. How can art adapt to and keep pace with the rapidly-changing virtual world?
‘Olafur Eliasson: Riverbed’
at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, until 4 January
Olafur Eliasson has launched a succession of high-profile projects and exhibitions across the globe this year. This is one of his most spectacular: the artist has transformed Denmark’s white-walled modern art gallery into an unruly riverbed that visitors have to clamber over and around.
‘Modern Times. Photography in the 20th Century’
at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, until 11 January
The Rijksmuseum unveiled its refurbished Philips Wing this autumn with an exhibition of modern photographs – quite a departure from the Old Master paintings for which it is most famous. The show is a good opportunity to explore this relatively new, and surprisingly extensive, part of the collection.
‘Rubens and his Legacy’
at BOZAR, Brussels, until 4 January 2015
This exhibition considers the Flemish painter’s influence on Western art up until the 20th century. The artist’s sensuous canvases are shown alongside works by Watteau, Manet and Picasso. The whole lot moves on to London’s Royal Academy at the end of January. We spoke to the curator, Nico Van Hout, to find out more.
‘An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle’
at the Pasadena Museum of California Art until 11 January
This exhibition looks at the life and work of Jess (as the nuclear scientist turned artist Jess Collins chose to be called) and his partner Robert Duncan, whose San Francisco home became ‘a nexus of literary and artistic life in the city from the early 1950s through to Duncan’s death in 1988.’
‘Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age’
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, until 4 January 2015
In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, as the Assyrian empire expanded in the Near East and the Phoenicians strung their trading routes across the Mediterranean, culture spread out along the same lines. How was this reflected in the cultural objects of the period? The Met’s exhibition brings together a wide variety of items that demonstrate the spread and evolution of artistic ideas.
‘Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist’
at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, until 11 January
Almost 400 years ago, the powerful Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia (daughter of Philip II of Spain) commissioned an extraordinary cycle of tapestries celebrating the Roman Catholic Church from the famous artist Peter Paul Rubens. This show brings together finished tapestries with the painter’s original designs; and it’s a feast for the eyes.
For information about more current exhibitions around the world, visit our Agenda section.
Christian Catholic Christmas Prayers of The Faithful & Blessings
In this section we’re going to present some heart warming Merry Christmas Prayers for you. Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God or simply conversation with God, for this purpose we’ve collected some beautiful Catholic Christmas Prayers and Poems that’ll surely touch your heart. We need to pray about everything and anything so here in this post we’ve added Short Christmas Prayer for Kids & Children, Beautiful Christmas Prayer of The Faithful with Christmas Poems Images for Greeting Card, Christmas Blessing Prayer about Life, Spiritual Christmas Prayer about Jesus Christ for Friends & Family. May this Christmas brings a lot of happiness & blessings in your life, have a blessed Christmas
Coping with grief over the Christmas period
Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works, gives her thoughts on what can be the toughest time of year for those who have lost a loved one.
Christmas for most adults is hard work, but for the bereaved it is an enormous hurdle. The aspects that we love about Christmas (or at least hope for) – family, joy, expectation, celebration – are turned on their head for the bereaved. They can become sources of pain, that can twist and hurt more intensely than the normal hurting experienced at other times of the year.
The intensity and complexity of what people will feel will depend on many aspects:
- How recent was their bereavement?
- What their relationship with the person who died was
- How the person they cared about died – if it was sudden and unexpected then grief is heightened
- Their capacity for both self-support and the support they have around them
A difficult time
If it is a recent loss, then the family is no longer the family they were last Christmas. Someone is missing, and that absence casts a large and painful shadow at this particularly family-orientated time. Joy turns to loss, expectation no longer exists and life generally seems pretty bleak and dark, so the idea of celebration can be a non-starter.
One couple I worked with who'd both experienced multiple losses went to Greece to work in a refugee camp, finding solace in helping others worse off than themselves.
Memories of last Christmas when 'all was well' are often bittersweet. While they remain a pleasure to hold onto and remember, they stand in stark contrast to this one, when 'all is not well'.Relatives and friends often misunderstand their pain at this time, and want to jolly everyone along, to try and get them to forget their loss, and have a good time.
Well intentioned as this is, it is very rarely well received – and even more rarely acted on.
Most newly bereaved families I have seen want to forget Christmas, and mark it by not celebrating in the usual way. One couple I worked with who'd both experienced multiple losses went to Greece to work in a refugee camp, finding solace in helping others worse off than themselves.
Jacky Lam / EyeEmGetty Images
Grief is personal
Those who have children usually feel the need to maintain Christmas rituals and make it as happy a time as possible.
Trying to suppress their sadness can be emotionally draining, so it helps to ensure they get as much extra help as possible from other friends and family.
This enables them to 'take a break' from their children – time to reflect, be sad or be angry – time to let themselves express their grief.
Each member of the family may be responding in a different way from each other, both the adults and children, which is often confusing, and can cause family conflict. There can be a belief that there is a 'right way' to behave or grieve, but the truth is we each have to find the way that works for us.
For some people that will be talking to friends or allowing themselves to be sad, while for others it will be taking time out to be alone and have time to remember.
When it comes to family it is important to help them recognise the need to acknowledge that they each feel a unique loss, and how that impacts them.
Transparency is also important, so that the family don't protect or shield too much from each other, but instead find a way of communicating openly together.
The build up
For many families the build up to Christmas day is worse than the actual day. Going out shopping, and seeing happy families can sting, and bring up feelings of envy and rage. I saw a family who found those dark feelings hard to bear.
One of them would say “I feel a bad person, I know I'm not, but that fury burns so hard it's hard to separate my feeling from what I really think.
” With this in mind, it is helpful to recognise that such envy comes more from 'they've got what I want' rather than 'I wish them ill'.
There can be a belief that there is a 'right way' to behave or grieve, but the truth is we each have to find the way that works for us.A lot of the time, it is simply a case of not knowing how bad the actual day is going to be, and often Christmas day itself is relatively bearable. Simply acknowledging that Christmas is a difficult time, both for the bereaved and their friends and relatives, can help take the pressure off, and 'normalise' these painful feelings.
Cultura RM Exclusive/Grant SquibbGetty Images
Finding ways to remember the person who has died, such as visiting their grave, can be cathartic. Often graves are covered with Christmas decorations, which may seem strange to an outsider, but the act of doing it can be comforting. Lighting a candle, reading a poem or prayer in memory of the person who has died can also help.
Regular physical exercise – getting out, breathing in the air, moving one's body, raising ones' heart rate – can prove invaluable. Grief is embodied as well as 'embrained', so supporting oneself physically is vital.
A client of mine whose much adored father had recently died found going for a walk to remember him, whilst talking over happy memories including times that were funny and even sad, helpful.
She told me: “The walking side by side, without having eye contact, not looking at my husband's face, letting myself cry and laugh as I moved my body was surprisingly releasing. Actually the silences felt so comfortable as well”.
Others find writing a letter to the person who has died helpful, it could take the form of a journal over the Christmas period which can be cathartic. Making a musical playlist of happy memories to turn to can be a way of connecting to the person who has died; which also keys into one's own feelings, when they can feel frozen and disconnected.
Be kind to yourself
When we are bereaved we can have a horrible tendency to be self-critical and turn anger – an expression of hurt and guilt – on ourselves. Guilt is the most painful companion of grief and, combined with self-attack, can be toxic at Christmas.
Try to be as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend, be aware of what you may be saying to yourself, and choose to do things that are comforting – whether that is watching a boxed set, having a massage or playing a game.Give yourself permission to laugh or even have a moment of fun; it is your ally when you inevitably get hit again by the loss and your pain.
For those who are not looking after themselves, there are some danger signals to be aware of. These include:
- Anaesthatising the pain with too much alcohol or drugs, which can spiral control.
- Recognising if it really is impossible to function, not being able to get up, not being able to communicate and being touch with reality.
- Extreme fatigue, mental disorientation, and bouts of tears that don't seem to end.
In any of these circumstances it is important to seek medical advice from your GP.
Is every Christmas going to be as bad as the first? It's unly. Over time, longer than anyone wants or chooses, the level of the pain does lessen.
But we now understand that grief isn't a finite business where the bereaved 'forgets and moves on', but an ongoing life adjustment. Therefore during every Christmas, maybe even decades later, there can be a moment of real loss, sadness or poignancy.
This doesn't mean that 'grief hasn't been done', but acts as evidence that we continue to love and miss the person who has died.
Even though we may be back into the swing of life and feeling happy, we can be hit by a small or even a big wave of loss for this much loved person. Finding ways of remembering them, choosing to do so every Christmas, can be the most healing way of managing that sense of loss.
For ways to support yourself through the Eight Pillars of Strength, go to www.griefworks.co.uk.
Irish Christmas traditions
Christmas time in Ireland is when families to get together and share in the joy of the festive season, exchanging gifts, singing songs and over-indulging in food and drink.
in most other countries, the Irish enjoy spending the holidays with their loved ones, but it is also never too long before tensions rise and tempers snap in overcrowded homes, and the ‘perfect family Christmas’ descends into chaos. The same as the rest of the world really. The little traditions that make Christmas ‘special’.
There are many festive traditions that take place in homes across Ireland each year. Some will be found in other countries as well, while others are uniquely Irish.
Here are a few of the best Irish Christmas traditions.
Traditionally in Ireland, at the beginning of the four-week period leading up to Christmas (now known as Advent), the men of the family would clean and re-paint the outhouses of the family home. As the men cleaned outside, the women would do the same inside, so that everything was clean and ready for the Christmas celebrations.
The tradition was originally a practical one, in getting the cleaning and maintenance of the home done in time for the winter months. However, when Christianity arrived in Ireland, the white-wash was re-defined as the preparation for the arrival of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus at Christmas.
Very few families in Ireland still partake in this tradition, other than the normal last-minute dusting and hovering that takes place before the arrival of the in-laws for the holiday period.
The Candle in the Window
This is a Christmas tradition that has survived and thrived in modern-day Ireland. Originally, a candle was placed in the front window of a home, to indicate to others that this was a safe place for priests to perform mass.
Throughout the 17th and 18th century, the British tried to enforce the Church of England religion in Ireland, and even made Catholic masses illegal for a time. The candles were placed in windows as a signal that a mass would be taking place at the home.
The meaning of the candle in the window has since evolved into a welcome sign for Mary and Joseph. It can also represent the love for a family member who cannot be home at Christmas.It is now common to see the front windows of Irish homes lavishly decorated with several electrical candles and lights at Christmas time.
One other point to note is that the candle should be first lit by the youngest member of the family, and only extinguished by a girl named ‘Mary’. Fortunately in Ireland, particularly hundreds of years ago, a girl named Mary was never far away.
There will be millions of people in the world who only really go to church over the Christmas period, no matter how much they intended to go more. The Irish are no different, and even though they have a history that is strongly influenced by religion and religious divides, they also sometimes ‘forget’ to go to church every week.
Not on Christmas Eve though. Churches in Ireland are full to the rafters at 12am Christmas morning every year, with the whole community staying up to see in the sacred day with their friends, neighbours and families.
For many, the Midnight Mass is a social event as much as it is religious. Old friends will re-acquaint themselves with a few prayers, a good old chat and an uplifting sing-song of Christmas Carols.
Christmas morning swim
Every Christmas morning in Ireland, thousands of people take part in an unusual and fairly recent tradition; a quick swim in the freezing coastal waters.
Similar practices take place in other countries around Europe, and the Irish are as happy as any to jump right in. The seas around Ireland are on average about 10°C around Christmas time. Not too cold until you get out and the icy wind sends shivers down your spine.
Still, many Irish people are more than willing to take part in the chilly tradition, often raising money for charity along the way.
Each year on St Stephen’s Day (26th December), groups of young men would dress up with blackened faces and straw suits and parade through cities in Ireland singing songs while waving a pole with a dead wren stuck to the top. This unusual Christmas tradition is one that is uniquely Irish. It is known as the ‘Wren Boy Procession’ or the ‘Hunting of the Wren’.
Its origins are disputed. Some say that a wren cost St Stephen his life when he was hiding from the Romans and it gave away his position and he was killed. His followers then hunted down and killed the guilty wren and it was labelled ‘evil’ or the ‘devil’s bird’. The wren was then attached to a pole and the men went door-to-door to request money so that they could bury the ‘evil bird’.
Another theory is that the tradition comes from a story of a group of Irishmen who were in hiding from British soldiers. They too, had their hiding place exposed when a wren pecked at their drums and made a noise. The men were found and killed by the British soldiers.
Both stories are fairly similar, and today no-one really actually debates which is the correct one.Nowadays, the Wren Boy Procession is just a fun-filled activity, with the chance to dress up, sing songs and raise money for good causes.
The wren on top of the pole tends to be a fake bird, and the door-to-door collections are more ly to take place in town centres and pubs.
If you fancy having a Wren Boy Procession of your own this year, then here is the song you will need to sing as you parade the ‘evil bird’ through town:
The Wran. The Wran. The king of birdsOn St Stephen’s Day it was caught in the furze.Although he is tiny, his family is great.
Put your hand in your pocket and give us a treat.
On Christmas Day I turned the spit.I burned my finger, I feel it yet,So up with the kettle and down with the pan;
Oh, give me a penny to bury the Wran.
On the 26th December each year the Wrenboys take to the road. They visit each house in the locality playing music,dancing,singing and reciting poems. The style of set dancing in Clare is symbolised by the “battering” or foot tapping that goes on in time with the music.
More foot-tapping music with The Chieftains performing Wren in the Furze from the album Bells of Dublin.
St Stephen’s Day Horse Racing
A trip to the races is high on the agenda for many Irish men on St Stephen’s Day (26th December). St Stephen was after all the patron saint of horses. Traditionally there are top quality meetings taking place across Ireland on this day each year, particularly at Leopardstown in Dublin.
The race course is a great way to let your hair down after being cramped up in the house for all of Christmas Day. You can enjoy a few drinks, share a joke with friends, and have a little flutter.
For those that can’t get to the race course for whatever reason, a trip to the local pub to soak in a major sports event from either home or abroad is a more than suitable alternative.
Nollaig na mBean: Women’s Christmas
The twelve days of Christmas officially end on the 6th January; the Feast of the Epiphany. This was the time in Ireland when the decorations would be taken down, the visitors would leave, and the women would have their own exclusive party!
Nollaig na mBean, meaning Women’s Christmas, takes place on the 6th January every year. This was a day when women were not responsible for doing any of the housework, taking care of the children or cooking the family meal. This was Women’s Christmas.
The women would traditionally meet at each other’s houses for food and drinks, some relaxation and socialising. The meals would tend to be baked delicacies such as scones and cream cakes, washed down with a nice pot of tea.The men would have to stay at home and take down the decorations, see off the visitors and look after the house and children.
The tradition has faded over the last hundred years, but is still followed by some women in Ireland. Bars and restaurants have tried to revive the waning tradition in recent years with special discounts and deals for parties of women but with limited success.
More about Nollaig na mBean here
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