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From the desk of the Executive Director

jan mcalisterJan McAlister
Executive Director

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas to all!

I have, for a long time, been interested in other cultures and how the Christmas Holiday is celebrated. I learned several years ago that Christmas in Mexico is celebrated during a season that begins in early December to January 6th, with one other related event on February 2nd. During this entire time, one can see nativity scenes, poinsettias and Christmas trees.

The season begins with celebrations related to Virgin of Guadalupe, the patroness of Mexico, followed by traditions such as Las Posadas and pastorelas.

There is a mass and feast on Christmas Eve, the arrival of the ThreeWiseMen on January 6th ending with Candlemas and the presentation of Child Jesus images at churches.

These traditions are a mixture of remnants from the pre-Hispanic period, Spanish traditions, traditions created during Mexico’s colonial period and later adaptations from German and United States Christmas traditions. People in the Philippines like to celebrate Christmas for as long as possible! The playing of Christmas carols in shops can start in September! The formal Christmas celebrations start on December 16th when many people go to the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses. The last mass is on Christmas day.

An old Victorian tradition was to hide a glass pickle in the Christmas tree the night before Christmas. The story behind this tradition goes back to medieval times.A horrible innkeeper stuffed two kids into a pickle barrel. St. Nicholas happened to stroll by the inn later on and heard of the kids' dilemma. He tapped the barrel with his staff and freed the kids, who ran home for Christmas dinner. And get this, humble (or umble) pie was made from the inner organs of a deer!

The original meaning of Christmas is a special church service, or mass, to celebrate the birth of Christ. Stories of the Nativity, or the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, are particularly important in religious celebrations of Christmas.

However you are celebrating this Holiday Time, I want to wish you blessings and wonderful memories this year with your families and friends!

Jan McAlister, Executive Director

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the “West In...

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