Saturday, November 24, 2012

Yuletide and Christmas: St. Boniface and "The Holly and the Ivy"

Dear friends,

These links and information are for the students in our home school co-op's 5th-6th grade English class. They are learning about medieval life in their history class, so I am trying to customize some of their literature selections to complement that. This week, at the start of Advent, we are learning how the Druids (pagans who practiced child sacrifice and a lot of superstition) came to accept Christianity, and how their existing winter solstice traditions were adapted to express the glad Christmas tidings of Jesus.

"How St. Boniface Kept Christmas Eve" is from the vintage book American Normal Readers, Book 5.  Print pages 212-227.  This will show up as numbers 207-222 on the book pages.  You can also find "Yuletide Customs" in the same online book.  Print pages 200-202, which will show up as 195-197 on the book pages.

Questions:
  1. In what year did this story take place?  How many years ago was this?
  2. The first paragraph of the story describes the setting. Write two sentences about it.
  3. The story next describes the main character. What is the man wearing?
  4. What virtues is the bishop said to have on the first two pages?
  5. The bishop's birth name was Wilfred, but he has been renamed Boniface by the pope. What does Boniface mean?
  6. What are Boniface's specific goals for ministering in Germany, following the example of Augustine?
  7. What does Boniface plan to do to the sacred Druid oak tree, and why?
  8. What did the Archdruid intend to do with a small child at the oak tree, and why?
  9. What message did Boniface bring to the Druids about Jesus?
  10. What does Boniface do with the wood from the oak tree?
  11. What does Boniface want to do with the Druid traditions of the mistletoe, Yule log and holly?
  12. What kind of tree will now be used to celebrate Christmas?
  13. Find three words in this story which are unfamiliar to you and look them up. What do they mean?

"The Holly and the Ivy"




The Holly and the Ivy”

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.


The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing in the choir
.

Question:

The middle four verses of “The Holly and the Ivy” start with the words “The holly bears a...” What four items are mentioned, and what object is compared to each one? The third line of each of those verses is “And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ.” The word bore is the past tense form of the word bear. So the author is also comparing the holly to Mary.

We are studying other tales, songs, and poems during Advent.  Stay tuned!

Virginia Knowles
www.ContinueWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com

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