Sunday 20 November 2022

Advent and Christmas Catholic Customs and Traditions - Joanna Bogle - CTS Seasonal

Advent & Christmas: Catholic Customs and Traditions
CTS Seasonal
Joanna Bogle
Catholic Truth Society
eISBN 9781784694692
CTS Booklet DO834

Over the last few years I have read over 300 volumes from the CTS. I have read books from many series. And many authors. A few authors so captured my attention I tried to track down all the books by them. This was the fourth book I have read by Joanna Bogle and also the second in the CTS Seasonal. Unfortunately in the eBook edition there is not a list of other volumes in the series and I have only been able to find one other title, by this same author. The companion volume to this Lent and Easter: Catholic Customs and Traditions, which I read a few years ago The print edition was published in 2010 and the eBook in 2017, just like the companion.

The description of this volume is:

“This handy booklet sets out the rich heritage of customs long practised by Catholics during the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

This handy booklet sets out the rich heritage of customs long practised by Catholics during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The Church makes sense of the natural seasons of the year through her own liturgical seasons. Advent's four weeks, cribbing, St Nicholas, carols, the 12 days of Christmas, Candlemas, St Lucy and Boxing Day are just some of the rich traditions explained here – a fine antidote to the prospect of gluttony and materialism frequently on offer at the year?s end.”

And the contents are:

Advent - a season of prayer and preparation
The four week challenge of Advent
Materialism and gluttony
Taking over the pagan festivals
St Nicholas’ Day- Father Christmas
St Lucy’s Day - light and hospitality
Birthday celebrations
The twelve days of Christmas
The feast of the Epiphany
The feast of Candlemas
A message for the whole year
A Christmas quiz

This is an interesting little read. I admit I did not love it, but did find it very informative. Many of the traditions I was aware of. Some I was unaware of. The book is really written for a UK market, and some of the traditions and practices that I was unaware of are from the British Isles.  In the introduction we are told:

“Each November, as the year draws to its end, and nature seems to be dying all around us, with leaves falling from the trees and the evening darkness coming earlier and earlier, the Church calls us to an end and a beginning. November is the month in which we pray for the dead and with its close, Advent begins.

Advent is the season of prayer and preparation that leads us up to Christmas. It is four weeks long. The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new Church Year. We begin the journey towards Christmas, our great annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ amongst us.

Unfortunately, all around us the commercial world is busy with Christmas preparations too – and has been since late September. As Christians, we have to live in the everyday world, and be a part of it, but also see it through the eyes of those who have met Christ and so understand the real meaning of things.

Just because we find the massive commercial exploitation of Christmas to be annoying doesn’t mean that we have to sneer and turn away from all that is happening. Christian’s today need to do what has always been done in the past, through all the centuries of Christian life and worship – the world needs to be touched and healed and transformed by the reality of the Church’s message. Shops are useful – here we can stock up on the things that will make Christmas pleasant and wonderful and cheery – and because Christmas is no mere empty festivity, but centred on something true, we have huge scope for real celebration and this is something to be shared.”

The book covers a wide range of topics from history, current societal practices. Overall I was underwhelemed by both this and the companion volume. There are many Advent and Christmas resources I recommend year after year. This will not make that list. If you are in the UK it would be more relevant, but even then my overall impression is ‘meh’!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Link to other Advent Resources.

Books by Joanna Bogle:
A Heart for Europe: the lives of Emperor Charles and Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary
Book of Feasts and Seasons
A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations
Lent and Easter: Catholic Customs and Traditions
John Paul II, Man of Prayer. the Spiritual Life of a Saint
English Catholic Heroines
Advent & Christmas: Catholic Customs and Traditions
Newman's London: A pilgrim handbook
Courage and Conviction. Pius XII, the Bridgettine Nuns, and the Rescue of Jews
St John XXIII and St John Paul II Prayer Book
Saints & Patrons: Christian Names for Baptism and Confirmation.
A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations

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