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When Does Your Christmas Tree Come Down?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

All day I've been reading posts on Facebook from friends so proud that their Christmas decorations and tree are no longer taking up valuable living space in their homes. As devout practicing Catholics, in our home we have only just begun to celebrate this blessed Christmas season.

Though commercially, our society would have us believe that Christmas ends on December 25. On the contrary, the celebration has only just begun on that blessed day. Here's the explanation of how the seasons break down according to the catechism of the church...

The Christmas season runs from December 25th until the Baptism of the Lord, January 9. The Octave of Christmas runs from December 25th through January 1st.

Typically here in the USA, the Catholic church celebrates the Advent season from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the Sunday before Christmas. That is why in most Catholic churches in the USA, you don't see the nativity and other related religious artifacts popping up until Christmas Eve. The Christmas SEASON runs from December 25th until the Baptism of Jesus, which is listed on the 2013 calendar as Wednesday, January 9. Because Jesus’ Baptism is not a Holy Day of Obligation, that celebration moves to the following Sunday on the church calendar. Yes, the 12 Days of Christmas go from December 25th through January 5th, and are then followed by the Epiphany, which is also moved to a Sunday for the same reason -- it's not a Holy Day of obligation in the USA.

With virtually no time from between the Advent to Christmas seasons, it’s always a mad rush at Basilica of St. Louis, King (The Old Cathedral) in Saint Louis, Missouri USA for such a small group of experienced volunteers to get the 25 or so fir trees lit up and positioned on the side altars, pine wreaths hung on hooks and centered under each window, red bows and pine cones strategically positioned, 30+ poinsettia plants in their decorative containers to display, the heavy cast iron nativity scene (which dates back to 1800s) out of storage and into place, and extra candles lined up around the altars.

These are just some snapshots taken on my iPhone at The Old Cathedral this Christmas. The finished product is much more spectacular in person, and it’s especially beautiful during Midnight Mass at Christmas Eve.

When does your Christmas tree and all the decorative trimmings come down? In our home, we celebrate both Advent and Christmas seasons—leaving the tree and nativity up—through the Baptism of our Lord.

Merry Christmas and New Year’s Blessings to all!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GREENEYES2249 1/11/2014 11:37AM

    Since joining SP about a week ago, I am so happy to see other people of my faith who truly embrace the traditions of Catholicism. I love being Catholic and am proud of my faith. Your church is a lovely place of worship, ours is as well. Enjoy it and spread the Word!

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BESCATS 1/6/2014 1:48PM

    Mine stay up until January 6 a/k/a Little Christmas.

It is one of the traditional names in Ireland for 6 January, more commonly known in the rest of the world as the Feast of the Epiphany. It is sometime thought that it is called this because under the older Julian calendar, Christmas Day celebrations fell on that day whereas under the Gregorian calendar it falls on 25 December. However the eastern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on January 6 precedes the creation of the Gregorian Calendar by hundreds of years. By the year 1500 AD eastern Churches were celebrating Christmas on January 6 and western churches were celebrating it on December 25 even though both were using the Julian Calendar.[1] It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and until 2013 was the last day of the Christmas holidays for both primary and secondary schools in Ireland.

I am Irish on my mother's side, and our tree was always up until January 6, thus I have kept the tradition.

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JMAHNKEN 1/6/2014 2:58AM

    Very interesting and beautiful pictures. I have attended many different church denominations of relatives over the years and I don't think that any one ever explained it like that to me, not even my Catholic relatives. My mom was from Mo and attended a small Baptist Church back there. Shortly after my parents were married they moved to Calif, and just before I was born the bought into a neighborhood really close to a Baptist Church that I went to when I was young. Growing up we always put our tree no matter if it was real one or a fake one up some time after Thanksgiving. But I don't think that it was done on any special time. But I think it usually went up around the first of Dec to some where in the middle of Dec. And it usually went up on a weekend so that we could all participate in picking it out if it was real, and could all help with setting it up and decorating it. My mom's birthday was Dec 30th and my sister's is Dec 31st. Our tree would always be up until after the 1st week in Jan or the middle of Jan. Depending on if it was a real tree and how dry it was getting. And it would usually come down on a weekend to so that we could all help to put the decorations away up in the attic and put the tree out to the curb or to a recycle center if it was real too. Now with my boyfriend's son living part time with his mom and part time with us, it really depends on when he is with us and if he wants to help at all with putting it up and taking it down. When I first met his son, he was only 4 yrs old and putting up the Christmas tree that year and the next year was very exciting to him. But since then he hasn't seemed to be interested in helping to decorate it and he was never interested in helping to take it down. This Christmas he went to Fl with his mom to visit her relatives, so we haven't even celebrated our Christmas yet really. He will come back home to us Wednesday night and we will have our little Christmas celebration then. We didn't even put a tree up this year and won't do it, since he was gone for three weeks. And also we just recently got a puppy that has a bad chewing habit, so we were afraid there would be no fake tree left if we put it up this year. But in past years I was following along with what my parents did, putting the tree up in the beginning of Dec to middle of Dec and taking it down the first or second week or so of Jan. I never talked to my parents about if there was a special reason that they put their tree up when they did and took it down when they did. I don't think any of our family knows that, and both my parents are passed away now so I can't ask them why they did what they did.

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BAMAJAM 1/29/2013 2:15PM

  I loved the pictures--- My home parish from childhood is in Shrewsbury, Mo.
It is another gorgeous church--- a spectacular carving of the crucifixion and the twelve apostles adorns the altar at St. Michael's...
May God bless you!

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SUNSET09 1/4/2013 12:10AM

  We put up our Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving and because my boyfriend's birthday is on the 7th of Jan so we normally keep them up until that time. It's good to know that Christmas is not over as it remains in our hearts and our spirit. Thanx so much for sharing your pics and the information. Be blessed and have a great 2013 New Year! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SCOOTDOG 1/3/2013 12:27PM

    As a child our custom was to put decorations up the weekend closest to DM's birthday, Dec.12, and take down on weekend closest to DD's birthday, Jan. 8. Now that my kids are grown and moved out I try to have tree up my Dec. 15. Then have grandkids take it down the day before they leave at Christmas. This way my DS can bring decorations up from basement when here for Thanksgiving and take down before he leaves at Christmas.

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FUSIONFITNESS3 1/2/2013 8:38PM

    Very informative. I value the advent season which celebrate in my church. Not for any particular reason, but I like to keep the tree up until after the new year and then it comes down when it works out for me.

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KAPELAKIN 1/2/2013 2:31PM

    Interesting! We don't have any specific beliefs tied to when our tree goes up or comes down. Usually we take it down at New Year's, but this year we are leaving it up one week longer because we have family in town this week and it's festive and looks nice. It's starting to dry out though, so it will get cut up and curbed as soon as they are on the plane home.

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HEYITSLISA 1/2/2013 6:48AM

    Nothing goes up before Thanksgiving or stays up longer the first weekend of the new year. Since we get a live tree I worry about it drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

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SCHECK5 1/2/2013 6:17AM

    beautiful pictures...

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ANDYINBC 1/2/2013 2:26AM

    We have noticed similar happenings with The Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Some families stopped turning them on,or took them down, after Christmas, and today we noticed that many more had done the same now that New Year is over. We will have our lights on for another week. If it was up to my girls the tree would never be taken down. Didn't you know, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

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    Loved the photos. The church you attend is beautiful.

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Same Old, Same Old

Sunday, December 30, 2012

How many times have we -- those of us who are trying to shed weight -- put losing those extra pounds on the top of our New Year's resolutions list? Well, I can't recall a time in my entire life when that one important item HAS NOT been on my list.

Last Christmas when I joined SparkPeople, I vowed that this was my catalyst, my savior, my motivation to "get 'er done!" once and for all! As I sit here creating this post, I know there are more challenges and accomplishments still ahead.

Well, I admit that this past year wasn't a total bust. I have lost a few pounds, started a wonderful walking routine, learned to make time to create home-cooked, lower-calorie meals, and motivated myself to do better in other areas of my life where family and my employment situation are concerned. That's a pretty good start in 2012!

Still, gravity can be cruel to we ladies over that half century milestone. When we don't see instant results, we tend to get discouraged. This year will be different. In 2013, in addition to the above accomplishments, I'll stick to doing what's right, what works, what brings me joy and fulfillment. After all, consistently is the key and moderation is KING!

And maybe this year I'll also bring along another companion to share this new life journey. Traveling the highway and byways of life is so much sweeter with companionship!

Spark on...
~ Lynn

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SOCDIRECTOR 1/1/2013 10:26PM

    You all are so wonderfully motivating. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment here on my blog.

Yes, that's me, an official "Slowest Loser". 2013 will be different!

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SUNSET09 1/1/2013 9:42PM

  Happy 2013 New Year and you're on your way to a successful year already. One day and pound at a time, Sweet Jesus as it's a life style change. I'm a witness that Sparkspeople has helped me keep track and be accountable for my food intake and exercise journaling with success. Keep on, keeping on. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ANDYINBC 12/31/2012 1:06AM

    Let's make 2013 a great year where we achieve our health and fitness goals.

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JANTWO 12/31/2012 12:31AM

    Keep it up and I like your companion!!!! emoticon

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LAURENXX19 12/30/2012 10:36PM

    Keep it up! I hope 2013 is even better than 2012!

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CHARISSA1969 12/30/2012 9:58PM

    Thanks for reminding me to appreciate the small changes and not stress over the big stuff.

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    Lynn~Keep it up! You are so right to see all those new habits with exercise and food choices as success. I'm with you....2013 is just full speed ahead to keep what's working going and keep tweaking things!

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LYNNJ1976 12/30/2012 9:56PM

    Sounds like 2012 was a great year for you! I hope 2013 is even better. emoticon

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Today is Feast of St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

As the story goes, St. Nicholas used to be a wealthy Bishop who surprised the poor children in his village with food to eat on their window sill where their socks were drying over night. If no socks were hung out to dry, he would leave a small sack with bread, fruit, nuts, etc. For some children in that village, that little bit of food might have been their only meal that day. Sometimes there was a small toy as well.

Nicholas was the Bishop of Turkey and is to this day the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, thieves, children and students. His reputation for secret gift giving to those in need became the inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus. Catholic and Orthodox Christians celebrate St. Nicholas Day in various ways around the world on December 6th, the day of his death in AD 343. The Christmas traditions of hanging stockings, candy canes, and giving to charity all have roots in the history of St. Nicholas.

When our German ancestries immigrated to the United States, this tradition was brought along when they settled in to their new home in America. All these 100 plus years later, we carry on the tradition with our son. (My DH Jeff's family came through Texas and mine by way of Ellis Island in NYC.)

So on Dec 5, before bed, my 7 1/2 year old son pulls out his biggest sock. In this case, it was one of his soccer stockings. He left his Christmas wish list along side it at the kitchen table. (We don't have a fire place and this was the tradition with my family when I was growing up.) The wish list is also there since typically we haven't yet seen Santa so early in the Christmas season to share his wants.

So, as I'm up long before the rest of the house to do my fitness routine, I stuffed his sock with a grapefruit, a navel orange, a banana, and two small trinkets from the dollar store. The nicer, more practical and useful gift is a book. Though not just any book; it's a Lego Ninjago Official Guide with mini figure. He will be so thrilled! Yes, we've raised a fabulous reader who also has a passion for Lego Ninjago!!

Spark on...
~ Lynn

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURELSPARK 12/7/2012 10:38AM

    Our youngest's name is Nicolas because he was born on St. Nick's Eve.

Interesting, my mom's family came from Germany through Baltimore and my dad's family came from Germany through New Orleans. We never celebrated St. Nick's day when we were young; I always thought it was because both sides of the family were/are Lutheran. My husband's family was/is Catholic (from France) and always celebrated St. Nick's Day. I went to Lutheran schools and we did not celebrate St. Nick's day; my husband and sons went to Catholic schools and they did. Any thoughts on this?


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    My little guy is just now finding the Ninjago's. He has been stuck on Star Wars forever!

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MAGA99 12/6/2012 10:34AM

    I love traditions

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JACKIE542 12/6/2012 10:25AM

    Love this!

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JENSAWIP 12/6/2012 9:20AM

    I like it!
My son's the same: big reader, but loves the Ninjago!

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LYNNIERN 12/6/2012 8:29AM


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Quick & Easy Meatball Recipe

Friday, November 30, 2012

While thumbing through a couple holiday magazines last week, I saw meatballs baked in cupcake pan. Genius idea! So I decided to make this for my family dinner tonight combining a couple recipes I located online. These meatballs were so super easy and really quick to make. I'll never make meatballs the old-fashioned way again!

Here's my adaption to make Quick & Easy Meatballs. I adapted it to what was on hand in my kitchen.


1 1/2 pounds of (85/15) ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Italian Bread seasonings
½ cup rolled oats
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt, optional
¼ teaspoon pepper, optional


1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Soften the onion and garlic in a fry pan for 2-3 minutes.
3. Using Mysto sprayer, coat a cupcake pan with olive oil.
4. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Using a 1" scoop, place one meatball in each muffin well.
6. Bake the meatballs in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.

Serve 1 or 2 over pasta with marinara sauce and large spinach salad. Boy, was this a big hit with my family!! We'll be doing this again really soon!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUNSET09 12/4/2012 11:12AM

  My recipe is quite similar as I use the oats, Italian bread crumbs and turkey meat! I'm going to try this one as well. It's a great appetizer! I love vareity PinknfitCarla! Thanx for sharing! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LYNNIERN 12/2/2012 8:28AM

    Thanks for sharing that recipe, it sounds good. I love the idea of making meatballs, meatloaf, etc. in the cupcake pan. emoticon

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GAYLLYNNE 12/1/2012 9:28AM

    Great idea. I would use turkey instead of beef. Thanks for the recipe!

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FITANDFIFTY2 12/1/2012 12:43AM

    What a fantastic idea! I am going to try it too!

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JANTWO 12/1/2012 12:39AM

    Yummy!!!! emoticon

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PINKNFITCARLA 11/30/2012 11:13PM

    Thanks for sharing! I make "turkey muffins" in muffin tins too. I use ground breast of turkey or chicken and add different ingredients depending on what taste I want. One night I used jalepenos and sodium free mexican seasonings with chopped green peppers and onions also. One time I used a little bit of pizza sauce and some LF mozarrella cheese mixed in with sodium free italian seasonings. I always use rolled oats no matter what the other ingredients. They come out great, give me lots of different tastes and I can throw them in freezer bags for quick snacks or meals anytime.

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LTMURPHY7 11/30/2012 11:11PM


sounds good

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Week 2: Still Meeting the Challenge

Monday, November 26, 2012

A couple weeks ago, BOSS61, one of my very first SparkFriends, sent a blanket challenge in his blog to all Sparkers. He suggested that we stay focused and on target with our new health and fitness routines to continue losing 1 pound over each of the next 6 weeks, taking us through the holidays.

I'm so proud to report that I'm meeting this challenge. Today, after a long weekend of snacking and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal, I've still lost 1 pound. Last week I also lost 1 pound.


Today my scale proved th at my plan to enjoy the weekend treats in moderation is the key. I didn't deprive myself of any of my favorites. I just chose to consume less of them this year. It paid off and I'm thrilled with the results!

Oh, yeah, I also made sure to keep up with my fitness routines, too! The combination of the two is key to success!

~ Lynn

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUNSET09 11/27/2012 11:29PM

  Challenges are exactly that and some of us thrive on them to keep and make us motivated. What a way to start the holidays; eating in moderation and learning how is most important! You are there! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GAYLLYNNE 11/27/2012 6:32AM

    That's awesome!!! Keep should be so proud!!!

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3RDBABYWEIGHT 11/26/2012 10:53PM


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FUSIONFITNESS3 11/26/2012 9:20PM

    emoticon You're doing the right things. Nicely done. Sounds like you're in for a successful Christmas season with the plan and already having proven success over the Thanksgiving week. emoticon

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I signed my name to the white board at the gym that states I intend on not being one who gains weight and forgets about exercise during the holidays!

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RAVISHIN72 11/26/2012 7:21PM


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