From the Rectory – December

Following a recent survey, the retailer Matalan reported that 82% of people own a Christmas jumper and that young adults between 25-34 year were the most likely to purchase one. Over three quarters of people buy their festive jumper to wear for an event at work. More than half wear one on Christmas Day. The options are near enough limitless, from a traditional Christmas tree, snowman or reindeer, to the less conventional ‘We Three Gins’ or Darth Vader in a Santa hat. Even computer game character Sonic the Hedgehog is available for the discerning fashionista looking for an original take on festive attire.

Although the Christmas Jumper is only a recent tradition, specific clothes worn for a special occasion has a much longer history.

The first documented princess to wear a white wedding dress was Philippa of England in 1406, although this didn’t become a common choice for hundreds of years, and up until the Victorian Era brides wore any colour they chose. Black was an especially popular choice.

In Papua New Guinea, the coming of age ceremony for boys involves dressing up in a conical hat which has log strands of leaves attached to its edge. Young girls who were transitioning to adulthood In ancient Rome wove and wore a tunica recta, or ‘upright tunic’, to mark the event.

The account of the birth of Jesus, a significant occasion if ever there was one, has just the one reference to clothes which is easy to miss on a cursory reading. The gospel of Luke tells us that Joseph had gone to Bethlehem to register at a census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus. While they were in the town, Joseph’s wife Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth.

These “swaddling clothes’ were wound tightly round a newborn. They restricted the movement of the infant and were understood to help babies both fall asleep and then to stay asleep as well.

Which makes Jesus just like any other baby born at that time. He didn’t look any different, he didn’t behave any differently, he was dressed the same. But still angels sang in celebration. Shepherds and kings came to worship him. Even the stars in the sky announced his arrival.

Our Yuletide choice of outfit will say something about how we see the Christmas season, but it’s what we wear in our hearts that speaks of how we see Jesus.

No comments yet

Comments are closed