Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Mass-going feet" and "a frosty dawn" (Advent Calendar: Religious Services)

Every child has strong memories of Christmas mornings. The joy of the long-awaited day's arrival; the gift-giving; the beauty of the morning shared with family. Many Irish children in days gone by remembered the outdoor beauty of the morning of Christ's birth as they made their way to early morning Mass with their families.

Patrick Kavanagh, a well-loved Irish poet of recent times, has written a beautiful poem which brings to life his memories of those Christmas mornings. Here is a portion of his poem, A Christmas Childhood. Kavanagh's vivid description of the morning preparations and the family's walk to church on "Mass-going feet" can't help but make the reader sentimental for Christmases past.

...Outside the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn...
You can read the full text of Kavanagh's A Christmas Childhood at this Irish Culture & Customs webpage.

This article is part of a series written in celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. It will be included as part of the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2009 Day 17: Grab Bag. Make a visit to Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers website for some additional inspiration to get yourself in the holiday spirit!

The article originally appeared here at A light that shines again and was included in Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

This is my first visit to your blog and I love it. It is quite beautiful. I've enjoyed learning some of the customs of the Irish people (& some of my ancestors who I don't yet know) through your blog.
Thanks for sharing.


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