Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas in Aberdeen

For a number of reasons, I don't actually make much effort to observe Christmas. Even so, it's been interesting to observe the holiday observances here in Scotland. One that surprised me was the sight of two different Christmas trees on campus, one next to King's College, and the other at the Old Town House (pictured). Most of my fellow Strategists cleared out by the 21st and headed for their various homes. My digs have also been pretty quiet, as the student population have evacuated the area as well. I figured that, even though the holiday isn't big for me, I may as well do something that night. I thought to myself, "When's the next time that I'll have an opportunity to attend Christmas Eve service at a cathedral?"

So, I decided to go to the service at the Cathedral Church of St. Machar. I'd never been inside the building before, but I've walked past it a number of times. It's really a gorgeous cathedral, though smaller than other cathedrals I've been to. (It probably has more seating than St. Magnus up in Orkney, but probably not as big.) The service was consisted of about fifteen songs and carols, sung alternately by all in attendance or by the choir. These were broken up with lessons from the story of Christ's birth, which were read by some of Aberdeen's leading citizens. The Reverend Jane Barron, minister at the cathedral, gave a beautiful sermon about the Gospel of St. Luke and the universal lessons and impact of the life and ministry of Christ. The service ended with the recitation of the Nicene Creed - it had been a long time since I'd had an opportunity to recite the Nicene Creed with a congregation. As I left, I snapped a picture with my phone - not fantastic, but hopefully it gives you an idea. (I'll be featuring the Cathedral Church of St. Machar in an upcoming post.)

And, as with any Western city, you get various places decorated for Christmas. Here in Scotland, the politically correct American practice of trying to avoid offending anyone by calling it "the holidays" seems to be replaced in local vernacular with "the festive season" - for example, the convenience store nearest my digs, and the affiliated bakery on campus, are closed for the "festive season", which means lots of trips to Lionel's for me. The picture of the bagpiper in white lights is over Alex Scott Kiltmakers on Schoolhill.

Overall, my Christmas break has been spent studying, but it's been nice to soak up just a bit of the local culture as well.

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