Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like.....

First, a news note: There's an interesting discussion going on at the moment about Big Red Rosaries on the Paternosters mailing list (at Yahoo! Groups), based on some new data extracted by a helpful scholar from 16th century inventory records.

* * *

I was recently reminded -- since this is just a few days before Christmas -- that I've meant to go looking and see what was online in the way of Christmas-themed rosaries.

Along with "Italian" and "Mexican" rosaries, and rosaries made in the colors of sports teams (believe me, I don't make these things up!), holidays are a theme that modern rosary makers seem to like. In this, they demonstrate that, just as in earlier centuries, rosaries tend to follow whatever themes are popularly expressed in other personal jewelry of the times.

Some merely re-label any red or green rosary for the occasion as a "Christmas rosary," or make rosaries with red Ave beads and green maker beads, or vice versa.


I've been idly wondering just how the specific combination of red plus green came to signify "Christmas." As with other such color traditions, my first suspicion is that the association was made in the 19th century -- when a good many supposedly "ancient" traditions were invented (like pink for girls and blue for boys, or white wedding dresses).

There are also some interesting rosaries with special features. In a quick pass through eBay, I saw rosaries that come inside a porcelain box shaped like a Christmas ornament (though I suspect it's too heavy to hang on most trees), and several different rosaries with Nativity scenes, or images with the Virgin and Child, on the marker beads or central medallions.


Someone is now apparently making crucifixes and medallions especially designed for Christmas, as well. The ones I've seen are, ummmm, not quite to my taste, but here's an example, in gold colored metal with bits of red and green enamel here and there:

Holly rosary

Along different lines, I rather like a rosary that was recently on eBay, from a seller whose screen name is bashton1. This seller's rosaries are very creative and beautifully made (and priced accordingly!), and this one is an example:


It's unusual to see anything replace the crucifix on a rosary, but to me this silver Nativity medal seems very appropriate.

I must admit that I'm left wondering, a bit irreverently, whether one is supposed to use a "Christmas rosary" only during the Christmas season, or whether it's equally appropriate to pray with a Christmas rosary at Easter, or in the middle of July. We humans sometimes attach a lot of significance to our own notions of what's appropriate.

But I rather think God is glad to receive our prayers whatever the time, place, or occasion.