Christmas

61299_512159765482253_851543363_nChristmas takes place annually on December 25 And celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy it also closes the Advent season and initiates the twelve days of Christmastide. The birth year of Jesus is estimated to have been between 7 and 2 BC, although the exact month and day of his birth are unknown His birth is mentioned in two of the four canonical gospels. However some churches celebrate on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which corresponds to January in the modern-day Gregorian calendar.

he Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child Popular tradition also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi, or astrologers, sometime after Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the young child Jesus. The visitors were said to be following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews.The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches.

1495511_722474054449676_1712107220_nCustoms associated with Christmas are a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins and include attending Church Services, gift giving, Christmas music and caroling, an exchange of Christmas cards, church celebrations, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes,garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus,Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season. In Rome There is evidence of a Christian Feast on 25 December 354 AD celebrating of the birth of Jesus, while in Eastern Christianity the birth of Jesus was already celebrated in connection with the Epiphany on January 6. The celebration was brought to Antioch by John Chrysostom towards the end of the 4th century, probably in 388, and in Alexandria the following century. Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by people who were later converted to Christianity, including the Yule log from Yule and gift giving from Saturnalia. Christmas customs have also continually evolved since the holiday’s inception, ranging from a sometimes raucous, drunken, carnival-like state in the Middle Agesto a tamer family-oriented and children-centered theme introduced in a 19th-century reformation. The celebration of Christmas was also banned by the Puritans, as pagan or unbiblical

Christmas is one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, and there are other devotions and popular traditions, such as the Nativity with animals to portray the event with more realism or sing carols that reference the event. A long artistic tradition has grown of producing painted depictions of the nativity in art. Nativity scenes are traditionally set in a stable with livestock and include Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus in the manger, the three wise men, the shepherds and their sheep, the angels, and the Star of Bethlehem.Some Christians also display a small re-creation of the Nativity, known as a Nativity scene or crèche, in their homes, using figurines to portray the key characters of the event. Prior to Christmas Day, the Eastern Orthodox Church practices the 40-day Nativity Fast in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, while much of Western Christianity celebrates four weeks ofAdvent. The final preparations for Christmas are made on Christmas Eve, and many families’ major observation of Christmas actually falls in the evening of this day.

Inferno by Dan Brown

imageI would like to read Inferno by Dan Brown, which Features Harvard University professor and Cryptographer Robert Langdon who wakes up in a hospital with a head wound and no memory of the past few days. He learns that he is in Florence being treated by Doctor Sienna Brooks.Suddenly, a female assassin named Vayentha who has been following Robert, breaks into the hospital, shoots a doctor so Sienna and Robert escape. Robert then finds a cylinder with a biohazard sign in his jacket and decides to call the U.S. consulate giving them his location. However he meets Vayentha again and suspects theUS Government is trying to clobber him.

Robert opens the container and finds a small medieval bone cylinder fitted with a hi-tech projector that displays a modified version of Botticelli’s Map of Hell. At the bottom of the illumination are the words “The truth can be glimpsed only through the eyes of death.” Robert and Sienna narrowly escape another attack and make for the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence believing the cylinder must have something to do with Dante. Pursued by Florentine police and Carabinieri officers they escape to the Boboli Gardens where Robert examines the modified map of Hell and discovers the word CATROVACER So consulting the original Botticelli “Map of Hell” he unscrambles the letters to reveal The words “CERCA TROVA”, which happen to be written on the painting The Battle of Marciano by Vasari, located in the Palazzo Vecchio.

At the Palazzo Vecchio, the Curator Marta Alvarez discovers that Dante’s death mask has also mysteriously disappeared from the museum and Robert learns that Ignazio recently died of a heart attack leaving Him the message “Paradise25” which Robert connects to the Florence Baptistry, where he and Sienna find the Dante mask along with a riddle from its current owner, a billionaire geneticist named Bertrand Zobriski who is rumored to be working on a means to prevent human overpopulation by using a genetically engineered disease.

Then A man named Jonathan Ferris, claiming to be from the World Health Organization (WHO), comes and helps them escape to Venice before suddenly falling unconcious and Robert is taken to meet Elizabeth Sinskey the Director General of the World Health Organisation where he learns that Zobrist, who recently committed suicide, was a brilliant geneticist and Dante fanatic and had developed a new biological plague to solve overpopulation, citing the Doomsday Argument. They Discover that Zobrist was involved with a shadowy group called The Consortium who were custodians of the Virus and discover a disturbing video.

Robert learns that Sinskey herself is involved in the conspiracy and that Sienna, Vayentha, and Ferris are all actors working for The Consortium who having become aware of the Bioterrorism plot have agreed to cooperate with the W.H.O Then At the Tomb of Enrico Dandolo, at the Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, Sienna goes rogue, and The Consortium realizes she was a secret supporter and lover of Zobrist and knows where the plague is being kept. So Robert, the WHO, and The Consortium, team up to stop Sienna before the whole world is infected by Zobrist’s Virus or it is used for Biological Weapon Research.

Lemmy (Motörhead/Hawkwind)

Sonic_Attack_-_HawkwindBest known as bassist, vocalist, songwriter and member of rock bands Motörhead & Hawkwind, The heavy metal musician Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister was born on this day 24 December 1945, in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Lemmy started his musical career in Stockport, where he joined local bands The Rainmakers and then The Motown Sect who enjoyed playing northern clubs for three years. Then in 1965 he joined The Rockin’ Vickers who signed a deal with CBS, released three singles and toured Europe, and were reportedly the first British band to visit Yugoslavia.In 1971, Lemmy joined the Prog rock band, Hawkwind, as a bassist and vocalist and sang on on songs like Space Ritual and “Silver Machine“, which reached No.3 in 1972. Unfortunately In 1975 Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind after he was arrested at the Canadian border in Windsor, Ontario, on drug possession charges.

He then went on to form a new band with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took’s Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. Subsequently Lemmy changed the band’s name to “Motörhead” – the title of the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind. Soon after, both Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. Lemmy’s guttural vocals were unique, and His appearance, including his friendly mutton chops, prominent facial moles and gravelly voice, has since made him a cult icon and Motörhead have since gone on to become one of the most influential bands in the heavy metal music, with a number of UK chart hits, including the classic single “Ace of Spades“.

Lemmy has also worked with a number of other musicians over his career and occasionally guests with Hawkwind. He wrote the song “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” for the Ramones, which he still plays in his live sets as a tribute to the band. He was brought in as a songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne’s 1991 No More Tears album, providing lyrics for the tracks “Hellraiser“, (which Motörhead would later record themselves and release a single), “Desire”, “I Don’t Want to Change the World” and the single “Mama I’m Coming Home”. Unfortunately in 2000, Lemmy was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, and this led to a brief hospitalisation. In 2002 Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever .In 2005, Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category with their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”. In October 2009 it was announced that he had been involved in recording a cover of “Stand by Me” featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, Dave Lombardo of Slayer on drums, which was made for professional skateboarder Geoff Rowley. In 2011 Lemmy also appeared on the song Debauchery As A Fine Art from Michael Monroe’s new solo album called Sensory Overload.

Mary Higgins Clark

imageAmerican suspense novelist Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney (née Higgins; Was born December 24, 1929′ known professionally as Mary Higgins Clark, Each of her 42 books has been a bestseller. She began writing at an early age. Higgins Clark graduated from high school and chose to attend Wood Secretarial School on a partial scholarship. After completing her coursework the following year, she accepted a job as the secretary to the head of the creative department in the internal advertising division at Remington-Rand. She soon enrolled in evening classes to learn more about advertising and promotion. Her growing skills, as well as her natural beauty, were noticed by her boss and others in the company, and her job was expanded to include writing catalog copy (alongside future novelist Joseph Heller) and to model for the company brochures with Grace Kelly. Although she enjoyed her job, Higgins Clark’s imagination was sparked by an acquaintance’s casual comment, “God, it was beastly hot in Calcutta.”

After several years working as a secretary and copy editor, Higgins Clark spent a year as a stewardess for Pan-American Airlines and for most of 1949, she worked the Pan Am international flights, traveling through Europe, Africa and Asia. One of her flights became the last flight allowed into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain fell. On another of her flights, Higgins Clark escorted a four-year-old orphaned child down the steps of the airplane into the waiting arms of her adoptive mother, a scene that was heavily televised.At the end of her year of flying, on December 26, 1949, Higgins Clark married Warren Clark. To occupy herself, she began taking writing courses at NYUand, with some of her classmates, formed a writing workshop in which the members would critique each other’s works-in-progress And Supplemented the family’s income by writing short stories. One of her professors at NYU told the class they should develop plot ideas by reading newspapers and asking themselves prompts such as, “Suppose” “What if and “Why?”she wrote her first short story called “Stowaway”, about a stewardess who finds a stowaway from Czechoslovakia on her plane And, in 1956, Extension Magazine agreed to purchase the story for $100. Their first child, Marilyn, was born in 1950 withWarren Jr. arriving thirteen months later, and a third child, David, born two years after his brother and Carol was born in 1956.Higgins Clark named her fifth and last child after her agent Patricia Schertle Myrer Warren and Higgins encouraged their children to support themselves and all five children eventually took professional acting and modeling jobs.

Sadly in 1959, Warren Clark was diagnosed with severe angina, and, although he curtailed his activities on his doctor’s order, he suffered three heart attacks within the next five years, each time returning from the hospital in poorer health. After the last heart attack in 1964 Warren suffered another fatal heart attack. His mother, who was visiting at the time, collapsed at his bedside upon discovering that he was dead. In one night, Higgins Clark had lost her husband and her mother-in-law. Higgins Clark’ wrote 95 four-minute programs for the Portrait of a Patriot series and was asked to write two other radio series. This experience of fitting an entire sketch into four minutes proved useful for writing a suspense novel. In 1960 The Saturday Evening Post, named Higgins Clark’s short story “Beauty Contest at Buckingham” one of their ten best of the year. Sadly By the late 1960s, Higgins Clark short stories were not selling so she started writing a full-length novel, using her research and experience with the Portraits of a Patriot series, And spent the next three years writing a fictionalized account of the relationship betweenGeorge and Martha Washington, Aspire to the Heavens. Sadly though four months after the publication of the novel, Higgins Clark’s mother Nora Higgins died.

To ensure that her children would not have to struggle financially, Higgins Clark was determined that they should have good educations, and enteredFordham University at Lincoln Center in 1971, graduating summa cum laude in 1979, with a BA in philosophy.[Her children followed her example. The two eldest, Marilyn and Warren, have become judges, and Patty works at the Mercantile Exchange in New York City. David is the president and CEO of Talk Marketing Enterprises, Inc, and Carol has authored many popular suspense novels. During this time Higgins Clark became increasingly frustrated with her employer, and, although two of her children were partially dependent on her for their college tuition, she quit her job and joined two of her former colleagues in forming their own company to write and market radio scripts. To scrape up the $5000 she needed to start the business, Higgins Clark was forced to pawn her engagement ring, and, for the eight months it took the company to become profitable, she did not receive a salary, further straining the family finances. Higgins Clark continued writing even during these hard times. Encouraged by her agent to try writing another book, Higgins Clark returned to the suspense stories that she loved as a child and which had provided her first success as a short story writer. While she was in the midst of writing the story, her younger brother Johnny died, leaving her the sole surviving member of her family. To temporarily forget her heartache, Higgins Clark threw herself into her writing, and soon finished the novel. Very quickly after the novel, Where are the Children? was completed, Simon and Schuster agreed to purchase it for the relatively small sum of $3000. Three months later, in July 1974, Higgins Clark received word that the paperback rights for the novel had sold for one hundred thousand dollars. For the first time in many years she had no immediate financial worries.Where Are the Children? became a bestseller and was favorably reviewed.Two years after its publication Higgins Clark sold her second suspense novel for $1.5 million.

In 1978 Higgins Clark  married to Raymond Ploetz an experience she describes as a “disastrous” marriage. ln 1996, she remarried again, to John J. Conheeney, the retired CEO of Merrill Lynch Futures, after they were introduced by her daughter, Patty.The couple live in Saddle River, New Jersey, having first moved tonew Jerseyn 1956 when they bought a home in Washington Township, Bergen County, New Jersey and also have homes inManhattan; Spring Lake, New Jersey; and Dennis, Massachusetts.  Her debut novel about George Washington, Aspire to the Heavens was retitled Mount Vernon Love Story and rereleased in 2002, the same year as her autobiography, Kitchen Privileges, which relied heavily on the journals she has kept all of her life in 2006 Higgins Clark announced that she would be fulfilling one of her dreams by publishing her first children’s book. Ghost Shipwas published by Simon and Schuster, who have also published her suspense novels. She has also written several Christmas themed mystery novels with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. Although popular with readers, some critics have complained that the books are of lesser quality than the bulk of Mary’s work, partly because the tone is much lighter than her solo output.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the evening or day before Christmas Day, the widely celebrated annual holiday. It occurs on December 24 in Western Christianity. This celebration of Christmas Eve is based on the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis: “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day. Many churches ring their church bells and hold prayers in the evening before holidays, including NordicLutheran churches. In some languages, such as the Scandinavian, Christmas Eve is simply referred to as “Christmas Evening”.Since Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of His birth. Christmas Eve is also referred to as “Heilige Nacht” (“Holy Night”) in German, “Nochebuena” (“the Good Night”) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”

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Christmas Eve is celebrated in different ways around the world, elements common to many areas of the world include the attendance of special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers, and the giving and receiving of presents. Along with Easter, Christmastime is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays, such as Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s, and the Feast of the Epiphany. Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate Midnight Mass, around midnight on Christmas Eve. This , celebrates the birth of Christ.In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa de Gallo, or “Missa do Galo”, in Portuguese (“Rooster’s Mass”). In the Philippines, the custom has expanded into the nine-daySimbang Gabi, when Filipinos attend dawn Masses from 16 December, until Christmas Eve. Whilst not performing any kind of Mass per se, the Church of Scotland has a service beginning just before midnight, wherein carols are sung. The Church of Scotland no longer holds Hogmany sevices on New Years Eve, however, The Christmas Eve Sevices are still very popular.

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Lutherans traditionally practice Christmas Eve Eucharistic traditions typical of Germany and Scandinavia. “Krippenspiele” (Nativity plays), special festive music for organ, vocal and brass choirs and candlelight services make Christmas Eve one of the highlights in the Lutheran Church calendar. Christmas Vespers are popular And The old Lutheran traditions of a Christmas Vigil in the early morning hours ofChristmas Day (Christmette) And “Quempas singing” are still practiced, whereby separate groups dispersed in various parts of the church sing verses of the song “He whom Shepherds once came Praising” (Quem pastores) responsively. Many Methodists often celebrate Christmas Eve by taking Holy Communion with their families with the Advent Wreath, and the Lord’s Table. Others celebrate with a services of light, which include singing the song “Silent Night” And a variety of candles (including personal candles) are lit. some churches celebrate Christmas Eve with the ringing of bells at midnight. Others  woffer Christmas Day services, as well.The annual “Nine Lessons and Carols” is also broadcast from King’s College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve,

During the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkind. and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve -the night when Santa Claus delivers presents. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary, where St. Nicholas (sv. Mikuláš/szent Mikulás) gives his sweet gifts on December 6, the Christmas gift-giver is the Child Jesus (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian, Ježiško in Slovak and Isusek inCroatian).

In most parts of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, presents are exchanged in the evening of December 24. Children are commonly told that presents were brought either by the Christkind, or the Weihnachtsmann.In Finland, Joulupukki, and in Sweden Jultomten, personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg,Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Uruguay, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, Christmas presents are opened mostly on the evening of the 24th, – this is also the tradition among the British Royal Family, due to their mainly German ancestry – while inItaly, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, English Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, this occurs on Christmas Day. Except in Italy and the United States, countries that open gifts on the morning of Christmas Day also have Boxing Day as a secondary holiday (this day is celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland) and in other Latin American countries, people stay awake until midnight, when they open the presents.In Spain, gifts are opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day (“Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos”),though in some other countries, like Argentina and Uruguay, people receive presents both around Christmas and on the morning of Epiphany. In Belgium and the Netherlands they also celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5.

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Some Jews observe Christmas Eve as “Nittel Nacht”, which often reflects feelings of mourning over the historic birth of Christianity and fear of antisemitic Persecution by Christian neighbors on Christmas Eve. Many people cease Torah study and Marital Relations during Nittel Nacht. This custom is similar to the traditions of mourning practiced on Tisha B’av. Alternative ways of celebrating arose like Playing cards, dreidel, chess or other table games. (Some modern synagogues hold poker nights on Christmas Eve. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was known to spend his Nittel Nacht’s sewing. today most Jews hold a more ecumenical view towards the birth of Christianity and Nittel Nacht is less popular, although many yeshivas still do not conduct Torah classes on Christmas Eve, and card-playing remains a well known Nittel Nacht past time.