Wednesday 24 December 2014
Wintervaltide Greetings from Northumbria
Everything is grinding to a halt here in the lovely Dark Ages Kingdom of Northumbria as the festive season fast approaches. The labourers have returned to their hovels - or, in most cases - to the inns, where ale and mead flow down their gullets in industrial quantities; the fishermen and market tradesmen have similarly retreated to the aforementioned haunts, leaving their wives to prepare bread and seasonal dishes for the forthcoming Christmas feast.
There's an eerie air of stillness upon the Kingdom which is only occasionally punctuated by the grunting of assorted beasts in their barns and the distant bleating of politicos and the braying of soothsayers. Such relative inactivity affords your Cat a well-earned break from the relentless daily chore of maintaining the territory and defending it from young feline pretenders, who are all probably curled up in front of their home fires, bellies replete with chicken dinner leftovers.
The Abbey of Streonaeshalh is preparing for the midnight mass tonight and the services tomorrow, and the monks and priests are making all the necessary preparations for the throngs who will doubtless be filling the place. My master Caedmon is composing some verse to mark the season. It's not a good idea to interrupt him when he's in creative mode; I value my continued existence too much.
At the darkest time of the year it's quite appropriate that humans celebrate the entrance of the Light of the World into a stable in Bethlehem. Admittedly, all of the leaders of the church acknowledge that the feast of Christmas has been superimposed over the ancient Roman pagan feast of Saturnalia; the precise date of the Redeemer's birth isn't known, and no traditions exist to suggest its chronology. Suffice it to say that this doesn't really matter, since the arrival of the Eternal into the realms of time and space are the occasion for rejoicing and reflection at any time.
A very Happy Christmas to you all!