Wednesday, December 7, 2016


   I have been seeing a great many Christmas articles lately and there is a question that should be answered at this time of year.  What did the "Three Kings" see?  A common Question to be sure and it does tickle the mind for Christians that believe something came to pass, that could not have been ordinary.
   So where do we start on this small exposition?  Let's start with the Kings.  We know them as Kings however, they were not really "Kings", they were scientist priests, well versed in astrology and were most honored by the ruling class of that time and place.  The word "king" was used by the Christian writer Tertullian in 120 A.D. when speaking of the priests as Magi.  What made these men so important during the time of Christ's birth was their ability to interpret the celestial heavens, in particular, heralds.

   Because the Magi found prognostic events within the night sky, the Hebrews of that time and place found this constituted a form of divination and thus, was considered pagan and could never have been acknowledged by their God, Yahweh.  Therefore, the Magi must have come from outside the Hebrew country and according to the bible, they came from the east (Mathew 2:1).  The Magi were Hellenists or Greek and therefore would have come from the east to the Judea countryside, just as the bible state correctly.
   The Magi used calculations that took into account the orbital mechanics of the solar system and constellations afforded by the sky.  That is, where a certain planet or constellation would be in the future.  This form of astrology was vastly different from the simplistic observational positions the Babylonians used.  Did they see a star or predict one?  No.  They did not.  So what happened to generate such a willingness to travel vast distances to a specific location searching for a specific individual?  They studied planetary motion, not a people or a place.

Night sky Constellations

   Remember the herald?  2,000 years ago the stars that individuals and the Magi saw at night were constant in their count and placement within the sky.  For this reason they were given shapes and those shapes took many forms.  We know them today as the zodiac and because some constellations passed over certain countries and lands, they took the meaning of those countries and lands.
   The constellation known as Aries had the symbol of a Ram and related to Syria, Idumea and Judea.  In 6 A.D. the area of Judea was placed under Syria.  Prior to,  it was independent.  Therefore, any person seeking council from the zodiac would have used the sign of an Aries or Ram for its portents.  Additionally, because Judea was Incorporated with Syria and Herod was the King of Syria and Palestine, his astrologers would have also been monitoring that same constellation.  The Magi could predict where certain signs would be and this was most revealing one morning.

Constellation of Aries

   Genesis 1:14 states, "And God said let there be lights in the firmament....let them be for signs".  The Ram in this particular sign is a lamb, not fully grown as yet.  The lamb means to reign, have dominion or government.  Additionally, the ram considered was also crowned with a circle.  The most ancient name for this animal was "Baraziggar" or the "sacrifice of the righteousness.  This alone would not have induced the Magi to travel so far, so what was the importance?  It is, I believe, that the observation seen by the Magi was so statistically unbelievable that  its occurrence had never happened or would never happen again.  They had to be in wonder and awe beyond belief.  All the planets that represented a king using Aries as the sign would have: the sun, Jupiter and Saturn in it.  No big deal, it occurs every sixty years.  The second point regarding a royal birth for consideration was the placement within the sky.  Another point is whether the sign is ascending in the east or setting in the west as well as what signs are in procession.  There is also a consideration of where the rising signs are located, meaning if their locations in the sky are closer  to the horizon or at the highest point in mid heaven during their observation, all of this is very significant.

   The sun and moon have their role to play as well.  The sun is considered to be of the most regal signature (Sun: King, moon: Queen) and have five planets that attend it because of that issue.  The last piece of this puzzle was exaltation.  This can be defined as the planetary location within a specific sign.  Example: If the Sun were in The Aries.  This would give impetus to the Sun's power in regal stature.  Bright lights were important also.  If Jupiter was seen as a bright light in a certain sign, which would lend importance to the overall signature event.
   On April 17, 6 B.C., the morning sky must have rendered the Magi into an unbelievable state.  Was there a star, no?  In the morning sky, was an unfolding event so rare as to defy anything they had ever seen or could hope to ever see.

   Aries was in ascendant, rising over the eastern horizon.  All seven planets were in that Judea sign.  This get better.  When the Aries was in the mid heaven position, all seven planets were also in the Judea sign.  Continuing, the Sun was in exaltation within the sign of The Aries at dawn and mid heaven along with both ruling planets of Jupiter and Saturn.  The guardians of the sun being Jupiter and Saturn, proceeded immediately before the rising dawn.  This was not all.  The attendants of the moon (Queen), Mercury and Mars were there as well.
   The Magi had to be stunned on April 17, 6 B.C., someone of incredible significance was born, or about to be born in Judea.  Probabilities of this magnitude "defy statistical quantification".  The statistical alignments of seven planets in a specific orbital location, in front of specific stars that are moving through space and light years away at a specific point in the rotation of earth, all in motion and with different orbital mechanical probabilities, defy its occurrence.  Yet, that is what happened.
   That is why the Magi were compelled to travel to a distant location they were not aware of.  Also, they were indeed guided by a planetary source but it was not just one star.


Map of Scotland

Flag of Scotland


   In Scotland, Christmas is known as Nollaig Beag, which means "Little Christmas".  The date for Christmas was one of the many holidays chosen to take the place of a pagan holiday.  Instead of pagan winter solstice festivals.  Christmas was celebrated.  Christmas was celebrated as a primarily religious festival during ancient times, and continues to remain a primarily religious celebration today.  Christmas was celebrated in Scotland until the Reformation.  The celebration of Christmas was banned in Scotland in the 1600's.  Protestantism had spread throughout Scotland, and Christmas was considered a Catholic holiday.  Prior to the Reformation, Scots did celebrate New Years' Day, called "Hogmanay", which included many characteristics of Christmas.  Hogmanay is still a more important holiday in Scotland today than Christmas.

Scottish Christmas Traditions, Decorations, and Foods

The Scots have always had a belief in the supernatural through the ages.  These beliefs probably come from ancient pagan beliefs and traditions.  One Scottish tradition is to keep their Christmas fires going all night long on Christmas Eve.  If you didn't keep your fire burning continually, unwanted spirits would supposedly come down the fireplace and into your home, bringing bad luck.  The tradition of the Yule log is also practiced in Scotland at Christmas time.  During the summer a log is cut and dried.  Usually Yule logs are cut from birch or rowan trees.  On Christmas Eve, the dried log is brought into the house.  The Yule log is circled around the kitchen three times.  The Yule log celebrants make a toast to the log, and place it in the fire to burn Christmas Eve night.  On Christmas morning, people looked at the ashes in their fireplace.  If there was a foot shaped ash, it was used to tell the future.   If the foot shaped ash faced the door, someone was predicted to die within the coming year.  If the foot shaped ash faced toward the inside of the house, a new arrival was expected within the coming year.

   Lighting a candle at Christmas and placing it in a window was intended to guide a stranger to warmth and safety.  Furthermore, the lit candle in the window at Christmas time symbolized lighting the way for the traveling Holy Family.  Bonfires are also a part of the Christmas celebration in Scotland.  People dance around these bonfires.  Of course, bagpipers play their haunting melodies, as well.
   Christmas decorations include hanging evergreen branches.  Colors used in decorating for a Scottish Christmas include the colors and patterns of tartans.  Traditional Christmas carols, like "The First Noel" are sung, as well as such Scottish carols as "Taladh Chriosta" and "Bottom of the Punch Bowl".

    Some Scottish traditional festive foods that are appropriate for both the Christmas and Hogmany seasons are Selkirk Bannock, Venison Stew, Scottish Shortbread, Scottish Blackbun, and Dundee Cake.  The Sellkirk Bannock is a traditional Scottish fruit cake made for the Christmas season.  The Sellkirk Bannock was originally made by a bakery in Selkirk.  It is a festive cake make of flour, sugar, raisins and fruit peels.  Selkirk Bannocks are a specialty cake made for other special occasions and festivals as well as being a special Christmas treat.  Blackbun is a very rich cake made of fruit, almonds, spices and flavored with whiskey.
   A wee dram of Scotch whiskey, of course, is frequently served to family and friends at Christmas time as well as during other celebration throughout the year.

   Modern Scottish Christmas

   The ban on Christmas was lifted in the 1950's, because Christmas was not openly celebrated for about 400 years, it is not celebrated by the same elaborate means that it is celebrated in other countries.  Modern celebrations of Christmas have been influenced by the media and traditions from other countries, such as the United States.  Scots can be found eating a turkey dinner similar to that eaten by people in America on Thanksgiving.  The Scots have been tree lovers since the Druids of ancient times, so pine trees are decorated at Christmas time, as well.  And everyone loves a present, so gifts are now exchanged at Christmas time in Scotland.  Santa has made an appearance and has become a part of Scottish Christmas tradition's in recent times.  According to sources, Christmas lists to Santa are put in the fireplace fire.  When they turn to smoke, they go up the chimney to Santa.  One modern Christmas tradition that Scotland shares with the rest of the United Kingdom is that many Scottish people watch the Queen's Christmas speech on the television every year.



   There has been a big question many of us have faced during recent Christmases.  LED (light emitting diode) or traditional (incandescent) lights?  LED and traditional lights have been sharing the Christmas light market for several years now, and that has made many people unsure of what the differences are between LED and traditional lights.  Why are LED lights becoming so popular, and why do traditional lights still manage to hang on to a large share of the Christmas light market?

LED Versus Traditional Lights

   While both LED and traditional Christmas lights offer their own types of benefits, it can be difficult to make a decision during the holiday season as to what type of Christmas light will work better for you and your home.  Let's compare some of the pros and cons of LED and traditional Christmas lights to make the decision a little easier.

Led Christmas Lights: Pros

   LED Christmas lights "burn" cooler.  Since LED Christmas lights don't really get hot, they don't pose as much of a fire hazard to the home as traditional lights, which feel warm-often hot-to the touch.
   LED Christmas lights shine with brighter, bolder colors than traditional Christmas lights.

   Depending on the model, LED Christmas lights use far less energy than traditional Christmas lights.  In fact, the average set of LED Christmas lights use 90% less energy than traditional Christmas bulbs.

   With an advertised typical bulb life of 30,000-50,000 hours, LED Christmas lights can last years, even decades.  Theoretically, using the bulbs only 1,000 hours a year (41 straight days) means you could get 50 years of service from your LED Christmas lights.  If that is the case, you may never need to replace your string of LED Christmas lights in your lifetime.

Traditional Christmas Lights: Pros

   Traditional Christmas lights have a "warm" glow, they don't look as stark and bright as the LED Christmas lights, and therefore have a "softer" appearance that many people prefer.

   Traditional Christmas bulbs do not cost as much to buy as LED Christmas lights, and usually come in longer strings.

   Because the bulb and the color-dyed glass are usually assembled as one component for incandescent Christmas lights, it can be a little easier to replace bulbs on a string of traditional Christmas lights.

LED Christmas Lights: Cons

   LED Christmas light cost more-sometimes 5 times as much or more, than traditional lights.

   LED Christmas light bulbs sometimes burn out by the many, not by the individual bulb.  That means an LED Christmas light failure could mean half a string or more not working.

   Some LED Christmas lights that are socketed (and replaceable) have been known to rust.

   LED Christmas light "flicker".  Non-rectified LED Christmas light go on and off at a rate of 60 hertz, whereas "rectified" LED lights run twice as fast, at 120 hertz.  While you will probably notice the flickering on the non-rectified 60 hertz lights, the rectified 120 hertz LED lights flicker so quickly that you will not be able to actually notice.

Traditional Christmas Lights: Cons

   Traditional Christmas lights can get very hot to the touch, sparking a fire.

   Traditional Christmas lights consume much more energy than LED Christmas lights, that also means a higher carbon emission output than found with LED Christmas lights.  Because of a higher energy bill to run traditional Christmas lights versus LED lights, incandescent Christmas bulbs cost much more to run than today's LED Christmas lights.

   Traditional Christmas lights bulbs tend to last about 5,000 hours-a fraction of the advertised lifespan for LED Christmas lights.

   Traditional Christmas lights don't look as bright as LED Christmas lights.

   As you can see, LED and traditional Christmas lights each present their own sets of pros and cons.  While LED's may be much more energy efficient and brighter than traditional lights, the upfront cost and potential problems with corrosion and/or light bulb replacement issues may have an effect in outweighing the benefits.  Traditional lights, on the other hand, present a certain warmth and familiarity that makes them still worth pursuing, energy costs and longevity issues may play against the notion that traditional lights will suit your needs.
   In the end, it may benefit you to conduct a little trial and error.  If you are new to LED lights, why not pick up a set or two and try them out for yourself.  See if you like the appearance of the lights, the feel of the cool bulb, and the overall ambiance the LED Christmas lights provide.



   Christmas in Ireland includes several Christmas traditions that have been adapted around the world.  The hanging of holly, candles in the windows, and whitewashing the house are a few Christmas traditions involved in celebrating Christmas in Ireland that go back to the early years of Ireland.
   Using holly growing naturally in Ireland during Christmas time.  Because of the availability, even the poorest of families could deck their homes to celebrate Christmas in Ireland.
   To this day although Christmas trees decorated with tinsel and ornaments are common, the tradition of using holly at Christmas still stands and the Christmas tradition has spread around the world to include many parts of the world having "Hanging of the Greens" festivities prior to Christmas.


   A candle in the window is another Christmas in Ireland tradition seen around the world.  The single candle placed in the window of homes originated to welcome strangers and the Holy Family to their homes.  A home without a candle in the window on Christmas Eve in Ireland was the same as the innkeeper in Bethlehem who said there was no room at the inn and turned Mary and Joseph away.  Burning candles have been replaced by electric or battery operated artificial candles for safety reasons, but a single candle in the window is still commonly practiced in Ireland and other countries.
   Whitewashing homes has pretty much been forgotten but years back it was a Christmas in Ireland tradition.  Houses, farms, and out buildings wee scrubbed and whitewashed before Christmas as a way to purify the places in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.  Today while many rural areas still whitewash out buildings, the major cleaning just before Christmas in Ireland is mainly in readiness for friends and family visiting during the holidays.


   Today Christmas in Ireland includes midnight masses attended by many, leaving stockings or sacks out for Santa to leave children gifts, and large meals of ham, turkey or goose with all the fixings.  The tradition of women baking seed cakes has almost been forgotten.  There would be an individual cake or mince pie for each member of the family, a large cake for the Christmas meal, and a cake or pie for Santa.  On Christmas Eve in Ireland it is customary to leave a carrot out for Rudolph also.
   Christmas in Ireland traditionally started on December 8th with Christmas decorations being put up and gift shopping.  The Christmas season in Ireland continues after Christmas with St. Stephens Day (also known as Boxing Day).  This traditions was originally the day when collection boxes were collected and distributed to the needy families in the area.  Today this is more a day of football and horse races or resting after family gatherings on Christmas day.

Inside the Dublin Mall

   Christmas in Ireland celebrations continue until the Epiphany which is January 6th and also known in Ireland as "Little Christmas" in traditional Irish homes.  This was the day the men of the house took over the household duties and the women were given a day off-this tradition is not followed much these days, although there are many women around the world who would love to see this tradition brought back.
   While it has not been verified, some say the familiar Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas" may have originated in Ireland.  It was during the time when Catholicism was banned in Ireland as well as England.  As a way to continue teaching their faith the song had meaning other than the seemingly silly list of gifts.

  • The "twelve drummers drumming"--the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.
  • The "eleven pipers piping"--The eleven faithful apostles.
  • The "ten lords a leaping"--the Ten Commandments.
  • The "nine ladies dancing"--the eight Beatitueds.
  • The "seven swans a swimming"--the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven Sacraments.
  • The "six geese a laying"--the six days of creaton.
  • The "five golden rings"--the frist five books of the Old Testament, better known in the Catholic Faith as the Pentateuch.
  • The "four calling birds"--the four Gospels....Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • The "three French hens"--Faith, Hope and Charity, the three greatest theological virtues.
  • The "two turtle doves"--the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.
  • The "a partridge in a pear tree"--the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
  • The "my true love"--symbolizes God.