Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas Countdown Characters #2

Today it was a hard decision whether to put the spotlight on Balthazar, one of the Three Wise Men or to focus on a more obscure Christmas character... Basil of Caesarea? 
St Basil - watercolour, ink, pencil - Wilma Simmons
B is for St. Basil ... Most likely very few other than those with a Greek heritage would know of St Basil's connection with Christmas. Basil was a  4th century Greek bishop of Caesarea, an area of what is now known as modern Turkey. He was an intellectual theologian and writer, but better known for his care of the poor and underprivileged. Basil, from a fairly wealthy family himself, gave away all of his own material possessions to the needy. This act in itself qualifies him as demonstrating the true spirit of Christmas, but there are other aspects of his story which suggests that he might be the Greek traditional version of Santa Claus. On St Basil's Day ( 1 January),  children receive gifts from St. Basil. . It is also a custom to serve "vasilopita" - a rich bread baked with a coin inside. Similar Christmas customs like visiting family and friends and singing carols are also customs associated with St Basil. I think St Basil, given his history and with  a name which means "king" deserves to be in the line up of Christmas characters - St Basil the Great.
Tomorrow, C is for Christmas, but who else will take the stage?

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