. . . and two very impressive people in the early days of Christianity, Sylvester and Melania the Younger. We’re at the halfway point on our 12-day journey from Christmas to Epiphany.
New Year’s Eve is, well, New Year’s Eve. ‘Nuff said.
Here’s a rather interesting bit of trivia. If you live in Samoa, you are among the first people in the world to welcome the New Year. But if you are in American Samoa, less than fifty miles to the west as the seagull flies, you are among the very last. Since 2011, the International Date Line goes right between them. Why? Look here or here.
Today in our Twelve-Days song, the Beloved gets what could be a lifetime supply of eggs from his or her True Love: “six geese a-laying.”
There are a lot of different kinds of geese, and a fair number of imposters, so one should inquire a little further about this gift. Since they are “a-laying,” presumably they are domestic geese. (as distinct from wild geese). This is a really nice gift – if you have the kind of property and interest (and patience!) to take care of them. A domestic goose will lay up to 50 eggs a year, each weighing 4-6 ounces. Perhaps you could open an omelet restaurant. They are noisy, fussy, and aggressive, however, so you will need tolerant (or distant) neighbors. But they make good
watchdogs. . . uhm, watchgeese.
While we’re at it, Mother Goose has a fascinating story, and Maurice Ravel wrote some nifty Mother Goose music (here in a classic, historic recording).
Also, a classic local beer might be a good alternative to Champagne tonight, if you can find it. I had never heard of it or “The Bruery” until I just stumbled across the site courtesy of Google.
The religious meaning of the Six Geese A-Laying is the six days of creation. Seems appropriate as life comes forth from the creative activity of God.
Sylvester was the Bishop of Rome from 314 to 335, a lengthy 21-year pontificate. He began the year after Emperor Constantine gave Christians freedom of worship with the Edict of Milan, and he was very much a part of the Council of Nicaea in 325, through legates even though not able to attend personally. He’s a pivotal figure in the making of who and what we are as Christians in a fascinating period of history.
About a hundred years later, one of the wealthiest and most influential women in the early Church, St. Melania the Younger, (see here and here too) gave up her extensive land holdings, and used her remaining money and position to travel with her supportive and dedicated husband all through the Roman Empire supporting monasteries, scholars, and works for the poor. She’s not as well known as she should be. She would be even less known if it were not for a life written by her disciple-biographer, Gerontius, annotated and published in the early 20th century by Cardinal Rampolla, himself a very significant figure in early 20th century Catholicism.
Happy Feast Day, Mrs. Trump.
[Featured image: “The geese of the Capitol” by Henri-Paul Motte, 1889. The geese in the temple of Juno on the Capitoline Hill were said by Livy to have saved Rome from the Gauls around 390 BC when they were disturbed in a night attack. The story may be an attempt to explain the origin of the sacred flock of geese at Rome.]