Sunday, 16 December 2012

Medieval Christmas Miracle:The Holy Thorn of Glasonbury

Medieval Christmas Miracle:The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury

Most legends cannot be substantiated, but it has been recorded that the Holy Thorn blooms on the dot of midnight on old Christmas Eve, January 5th. (In 1752 Christmas was moved back to December 25th.)

The Thorn is regarded as holy because it is said that after Christ’s crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea, the owner of the tomb where Jesus lay, was preaching in Britain and came to the Isle of Avalon. While he was there on Christmas Day he thrust his staff into the ground where it immediately took root and sprouted leaves and blossom. Inspired by the miracle, Joseph established a church on the Isle.

Over the years cuttings of the Holy Thorn have been taken. For example, the Puritans disapproved of Christmas and cut down the miraculous thorn tree and, more recently, it was cut down. Fortunately the cuttings have survived to bloom at midnight on old Christmas Eve, and for a branch in bud to be sent to the sovereign each Christmas.

Christmas Kissing Bough

Now that I have researched the Kissing Bough I shall make one, if I have time.

In pagan times the kissing bough was a ball of holly and other evergreens beneath which hung mistletoe. It was probably linked to fertility rites the details which are lost in time.

However, once upon a time in Europe, to bless the household, a small treetop was hung upside down in the house to represent the Holy Trinity. However, it was not the custom in Britain, so from the 15th century onwards a Sacramental, a hoop or circle made of ash willow or hazel, was created, with either a model of the Christ Child or the Holy Family in the centre. Perhaps children helped to make it and looked forward to the priest blessing the bough before it was hung inside before the front door. Visitors indicated they brought good will by exchanging an embrace beneath the Holy Bough. As time passed by the bough became more elaborate, and was decorated with ribbons, gilded nuts and apples and candles.

In due course of time the Holy Bough or Holly Bough became known as the Kissing Bough due to the sprig of mistletoe suspended from it, which allowed any woman passing beneath it to be kissed.

If I have time, I want to make my own version of a kissing bough using an oasis ball decorated with holly and other greenery from my garden, red ribbon and ornaments. As I blogged yesterday I have no mistletoe so I shall call it a holly ball. If I don’t have time this year it is something I want to make next year along with a homemade wreath for my front door.

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