“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store.” - Dr Seuss
Today is Christmas Eve. It is the anniversary of the birth of:
- Benjamin Rush, physician/humanitarian (1745);
- Kit Carson, Western scout (1809);
- James Prescott Joule, physicist (1818);
- Matthew Arnold, English poet (1822);
- Peter Cornelius, German composer (1824);
- Emanuel Lasker, chess champion (1868);
- Juan Ramón Jiménez, Nobel laureate (1956) Spanish poet (1881);
- Howard Hughes, USA millionaire (1905);
- Ava Gardner, actress (1922);
- Robert Joffrey, choreographer (1930).
The birthday flower for this day is the chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum sinensis X indicum. It is an emblem of the solar disc and is under the dominion of Sagittarius. It symbolises abundance and wealth, regal beauty and cheerfulness in adversity. A red chrysanthemum in the language of flowers speaks the words: “I love you”; a white one stands for “truth”, while a yellow one implies dejection and slighted love.
“Silent Night” was composed on this day in 1818 by Franz Gruber and sung for the first time the next day, Christmas 1818.
On Christmas Eve all Christmas decorations should be put up, the Christmas tree trimmed and the ivy, holly and mistletoe brought it to the house for the first time only today. The Yule Log or “Christmas Brand” must be brought into the house and this log should be taken from your own trees, found or be given to you, but never bought. It should be lit at dusk with a splinter from last year’s Yule Log. It should burn all night, but preferably burn all night and then all through the twelve nights of Christmas. It should not be left to go out but it can be extinguished and re-lit. The piece that is kept for lighting next year’s log will protect the house from burning down all through the year. The Christmas candle should be lit for the first time tonight and it should be large enough to light the evening meal for the next twelve days. It should be bright red in colour and must never blow out accidentally but always snuffed at the end of the meal.
The Finns have a tradition that recounts how on Christmas Eve, one of the longest nights in the year, ghosts roam the earth. They set out candles on the graves of dead relatives making the travels of the spirits from and to the graves easier. The candles also placate the ghosts and ensure that the family is safe.