Frau Gaude

According to old folk beliefs, Frau Gaude, followed by her pack of phantom dogs, once haunted the streets of German-speaking EUROPE during the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.


The sap of the frankincense tree (Boswellia carteri or Boswellia thu-rifera) dries into hard, yellowish brown lumps of gum resin known as frankincense. In biblical times frankincense was prized as the very best kind of incense. It was one of the GIFTS that the MAGI presented to the baby JESUS.

Football Bowl Games

Many Americans enjoy watching college football GAMES on New Year’s Day. This tradition dates back to the early years of the twentieth century when the first of these “bowl” games, the Rose Bowl, got its start.

Flight into Egypt

The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW tells that soon after JESUS was born, King HEROD sent soldiers to BETHLEHEM to kill all the town’s male infants (see HOLY INNOCENTS’ DAY).

First Night

First Night is the name of an alternative New Year’s Eve celebration begun in Boston in the year 1976. The organizers of this event promoted the festivities as an alcohol-free, family-oriented New Year’s celebration.


In many parts of EUROPE old superstitions held that the first person to cross one’s threshold after the start of the new year determined the household’s luck for the coming year.


For Christmas customs involving the use of fire and bonfires

Feast of the Circumcision

The GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE (2:21) reports that eight days after JESUS was born, JOSEPH and MARY named him and had him circumcised. In doing so, they conformed to an old Jewish custom whereby all male infants are circumcised as a sign of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people.

Father Time

Two old men with white beards have come to symbolize the holiday season. The first, SANTA CLAUS, visits homes on Christmas Eve (see also FATHER CHRISTMAS; WEIHNACHTSMANN).
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