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December 19, 2010


Nich Hills

Strictly speaking, Christmas Day starts at sunset on December 24th. So in mid-winter northern hemisphere a 7:30pm start still gives you a Christmas service.


In Welsh-speaking Wales they sing what is known as the Plygain, a series of very complex contrapuntal medieval hymns which goes on all night til Christmas dawn.

This form of worship centred on the Church of Wales church at Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa.

The great Welsh poet and hymn=writer Ann Griffiths worshipped there with her whole family until the 1790's Methodist revival, when one by one they all left the church for the chapel and in the end only the family dog went every Sunday to divine service.


I've been to Catholic Midnight Masses at hours other than midnight. (Albeit it was an ecumenical church.) I wouldn't have thought doing-other-than-what-it-says-on-the-tin was a particularly Anglican skill.


Well my mum, who was agnostic, always used to want to go to midnight mass after she'd necked a few whiskies on Xmas eve. There'd be quite a lot of people there in a similar state and Father Tolkein* was usually extremely well lubricated by that stage. I always suspected the Catholics move it forward so it isn't a drunk magnet, whereas anglicans do it for more genteel reasons to do with convenience and early nights and things.

*son of the hobbit-monger.

chris y

Strictly speaking, Christmas Day starts at sunset on December 24th.



Thinking about it, we also used to have Sunday Mass on Saturday evenings.

des von bladet

The local (Calvinist-leaning protestant) Kerstavondviering is at 21:30.

The Big Church in town offers a choice of 17:00, 20:00 and 23:00, but serious drinking here doesn't start til later anyway.

des von bladet

. Although the drinking season is slightly underway here, apparently.

Nich Hills

For chris y:


Here's one:

"[T]he Christian tradition considers feasts and other days of observance where Masses are celebrated to begin at sunset of the previous day."


Sounds thoroughly RC to me (they were always a byword in our house for waving their hands around and then announcing that black was in fact white, so moving midnight to 7.30 would be nothing). The fairly low Anglican church I went to as a child was very into keeping parishioners from their beds. I forget exactly what time Midnight Mass would start, but it certainly wouldn't end before midnight - I mean, you couldn't sing the last verse of Adeste Fideles otherwise, could you? (And being in a church full of people singing "...born this happy morning" when it is actually that morning tells you something about the ritual year, I can tell you.)

The high Anglican church my parents used to go to was, if anything, even more dedicated to disrupted sleep patterns: one year they brought in a special Easter Sunday service at daybreak, for no particular liturgical reason that I'm aware of. It was a great hit, largely with the older element of the congregation who got an excuse to skip the eggs-and-bunnies family service later on (and they would only have been drinking tea and listening to the shipping forecast otherwise).


My experience is similar to Phil's - midnight mass starts about 11pm, and ends shortly after midnight. Most churches I've been to have had an earlier evening service as well, which is sometimes more explicitly aimed at kids.


Also see


And we used to be promised blood but given blackberry juice. I don't think my faith ever recovered...

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