Monday, January 6, 2014

The Closing Bracket

Brigitte reminded me this morning that it is Three Kings Day—Epiphany. “Ah yes,” I thought. “The sixth.” In Europe, at least if you were a child, the Christmas Season began with St. Nicholas day—not with the first Sunday in Advent. St. Nicholas day falls on the sixth—of December. As children we put our shoes on the window sill the night before and went to bed. In the morning the shoes were filled with fruit, candy and cookies; bright red paper and twigs of fir decorated the display; and for good measure each child also received a switch, to be used on our bottoms if we should be bad. And the season also ended on the sixth—of January, when the angels notified the shepherds and the Three Kings came to visit the Christ-child in his manger. That day—both for Brigitte (who lived her childhood in Poland) and for me (in Hungary), that day was also traditionally appointed to take down the Christmas tree and to store the Christmas decorations for another year. The season lay between brackets, you might say, isolated from the relentless flow of the world—thus outside of time.

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