St. George's Anglican Church                           St. Paul's Anglican Church
            Battleford, Saskatchewan                         North Battleford, Saskatchewan


That - Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick") is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. For Christians, the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. However, it has gradually become more of a secular celebration of Irishness and Irish culture.
The day generally involves public parades and festivals, céilithe, and wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Little is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish church.
Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

That - Among ancient Romans, evergreens were an emblem of peace, joy, and victory. The early Christians place them in their windows to indicate that Christ had come into their home. The first use of the Christmas tree was in the medieval German Paradise Plays held outdoors, that portrayed the creation of humankind. The Tree of Life was a fir tree decorated with apples. Later other ornaments were hung on them such as paper flowers or gilded nuts. The story is told that on Christmas Eve, Martin Luther wandered outdoors and became enraptured with the beauty of a starry sky. Its brilliance and loveliness led him to reflect on the glory of the First Christmas Eve as seen in Bethlehem's radiant sky. Wishing to share this with his wife and children - the enchantment that he felt - he cut from the forest, an evergreen, glistening with snow, and took it home. He placed upon it candles to represent the glorious heavens that he had seen. Holly and Ivy, along with pine and fir, are called evergreens because they never change color. They are ever - green, ever - alive, even in the midst of winter. They symbolize the unchanging nature of our God and they remind us of the everlasting life that is ours through Jesus Christ. The use of a candle-lighted tree spread to all of Europe. Later, Canada would regard it as the central ornament of Christmas. Today the Christmas tree is the centre of our festivities. Glittering with lights and ornaments, it is a part of the beauty and meaning of Christmas.

That - Under Christian thought and sentiment, holly became widely used in church celebrations. Holly was considered as the burning bush, or a symbol of Mary whose being glows with the Holy Spirit. The red berries represented the blood drops from the cruel thorns in the crown of Jesus. In Isaiah 60:13, we find these words: "The Glory of Lebanon shall come unto you, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place on your sanctuary." Our forefathers called the procuring of these evergreens, "Bringing Home Christams."

That - Most Christmas greenery reflects European traditions, but one colorful plant, which looks like a flaming star, the poinsettia, is native to the American continent. It was named after Dr. Joel Poinset, and ambassador to Mexico. The people of Mexico and Central America call it the "Flower of the Holy Night." It is a many-pointed star that has become a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem.

That - Advent is a time of expectation, symbolized, not only by the four-week time of preparation, but also by the lighting of Advent Candles on each Sunday of the season. The flame of each new candle reminds us, the worshippers, that something is happening and something more is yet to come. The candles are arranged in a circle to remind us of the continuous power of God which knows neither beginning nor ending. There is also symbolism in the colors of the candles. The three blue candles symbolize the coming of the Prince of Peace. The pink candle is to be lit on the third Sunday - this candle represents joy. The large white candle at the center is known as the Christ candle and points to Jesus as the Christ, the Light of the World.

That - the Nativity is one of the most heart-warming expressions of Christmas. We know that God reached out to all people including the poor and the wealthy, the simple and the wise, the powerless and the powerful. All who found Him, knelt in humility before Him. The Nativity scenes exhibit figures representing the infant Jesus, his mother Mary, and Joseph.; bowing before the manger, overwhelmed by God's expression of love in coming to us. Other characters from the nativity story such as shepherds, the Magi, and angels may be displayed near the manger in a barn (or cave) intended to accommodate farm animals. A donkey and an ox are typically depicted in the scene, as well as camels belonging to the Magi.

That - Unique in our history of givers is the story of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Lycia in the fourth century A.D.
He is reputed to have been wealthy, his emblem being three purses and three golden balls. This was the symbol of rich Italian families of his time. The good Bishop gave his money away secretly to those whom he found in need. He was deeply interested in young people, giving his wealth especially to young maidens whose lack of dowry was affecting their matrimonial future, and to needy boys. Gifts coming from unknown sources were commonly attributed to him and parents customarily gave him credit for their gifts to their children.
The discovery of his generosity is said to have been made by the father of three dowry-less daughters. The eldest two each received from the chimney on successive nights a substantial gift of gold with her name on it. The father resolved to watch and see who their generous benefactor was. His vigil revealed the good Saint Nicholas as the door of the gifts. His name survives today as the human embodiment of unselfish giving. The fact that the maidens of this Bishopric of Myra, needing and expecting a dowry from Saint Nicholas, suspended a stocking to catch the money purse the generous bishop would drop down the chimney.