Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 20, 2004
Keep the carols for Christmas
Advent should be celebrated with Advent carols, not Christmas carols
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Christmas carols are being piped into shopping malls before Halloween decorations have been taken down.
But if Rose Marie Fowler had her way, Christmas carols would be sung only in the Christmas season which begins Dec. 25 and concludes Jan. 9, the feast of the Baptism of our Lord.
"Sometimes I think we celebrate so much before Christmas that the day after Christmas nobody wants to celebrate anymore."
Fowler is the associate director of the archdiocesan liturgy office and part of her job is to help people understand the significance of the various liturgical seasons and how they should be celebrated.
As she put it, Christmas doesn't start until Dec. 25 so why are we celebrating Christmas so early?
We should be celebrating Advent and singing Advent hymns, not Christmas carols, she said.
Advent, the four-week period during which Christians anticipate Jesus' birth, began on Nov. 28 this year.
This a period of preparation for Christmas and a period of hope and expectation in which Christians spend time preparing spiritually for the coming of Jesus.
And so the tunes or carols of Advent are songs of waiting and songs of hope, not necessarily songs of fulfillment, like the Christmas carols are, Fowler explained. "Christmas carols are songs of Christ having come but the songs of Advent would be more looking forward to his coming like Oh Come Divine Messiah, O Come, O Come Emmanuel and People Look East."
Fowler says she can understand why shopping malls start the Christmas craze so early but said hearing carols in the mall shouldn't distract Christians from the Advent season.
"The real preparation in Advent should be a preparation of prayer," she said. "It should be a prayerful preparation. And I'm not saying you should not sing any hymns at all. As we get closer to Christmas, it might be appropriate to sing some Christmas carols. But the main celebrating should be done at Christmas and after."
Fowler also noted many Christians have Christmas parties during Advent. She said it would be much better if Christmas parties were celebrated during the Christmas season as well.
The same goes for musical productions or choirs getting together to sing Christmas carols. "To me it would be much better to have that right after Christmas."
And the Christmas tree should ideally go up on Christmas Eve and stay up until the end of the Christmas season, Fowler said. "I remember as a child we used to decorate our tree on Christmas Eve. But now people have their Christmas tree up even before Advent begins and then take it down the day after Christmas."
Why celebrate Christmas for such an extended period, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 9?
"You don't celebrate a major feast for just one day - but for a longer period," Fowler said. "I guess that's the problem with celebrating (Christmas) ahead of time. When the day is finished, that's it for you."
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