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Friday, December 14, 2012

Irish Advent Calendar in Irish (Gaeilge) and English (Bearla)

There is an online Irish Advent Calendar here:

http://www.facebook.com/IrishAdvent

Story behind this Irish Advent Calendar:

Thanks mostly to my wife, we have enjoyed reading an Advent Calendar every year leading up to Christmas.

Several years ago I got the idea to make an Advent Calendar in Irish. Like normal, I did not do anything with the idea.

Yet, I didn't forget the idea.

A year later, maybe more, I mentioned my idea to Pastor Jim and I think to my own pastor, Pastor Karyl. Later, Pastor Karyl, gave me an Advent Calendar that is basically like a trifold card.  I think it's the one that has a baby angel with halo and wings, standing by one lamb and holding another lamb, on the cover. Inside there are conifers behind a scene of animals and cute kids surrounding the baby Jesus in a manger.  There are little doors with animals or sprigs of holly on the doors.  The doors are numbered 1 to 24 and under each opened paper door is a little more of the story in words. Yah, it's very much on the cute side.

How un-tech, eh? A story that unfolds (pun intended) day by day for almost a month.

You might not get the idea until you see the little ones really enjoy opening the doors by number. Hey, at a certain age this is a big achievement! 

I hope to reach that age again.

This September, I started to translate the calendar's phrases and I wrote my version of the Irish right on the card next to each door.

This created some high emotion when my wife thought I was marking up our family Advent Calendar. Hopefully the two calendars are the same, or I owe my wife a new Advent Calendar . . . in English.

Still I knew my translations were pitiful.

Roslyn, Nancy and Jonathan from my online Irish class agreed to help me correct my translations.  I thank them for all their thoughts and hard work.

At about the time the group translation was about to kick off, the thought occurred to me that I wanted to have the English version and Irish version displayed day by day. If I posted or put this Advent Calendar out there, I'd be infringing on the copyright for the version written in English.

I went on a personal crash course on the Advent story, reading different versions of the New Testament Bible and other writings on the Internet.  All this so I could write an original version in English of Advent for use as a calendar.

I learned that the donkey, which everyone is certain is in the story, that Mary rode on from Nazareth to Bethlehem, is not mentioned in the Bible.  Most scholars and others think it makes sense given Mary's advanced stage of pregnancy and the distance, but it's unstated in the Bible.

I also learned there is no inn keeper mentioned.  The statement in the Bible is that there was no room at the inn.  And the Greek word for "inn" might mean "guest room in the back." Some people think that Joseph's whole family was back home for the census, like a government imposed family reunion, and Joseph and Mary came late, so they got to sleep in the room where animals also slept. Either way, Jesus was wrapped and placed in a manger, right?

Speaking of the census, there was a problem with the Greek word for census as it could be translated as "tax."  That and a Jewish scholar thought the purpose of the census was so that a tax could be levied.  A fair number of versions of the Bible say Joseph was going to be Bethlehem to be taxed, don't you know, while most scholars today agree the trip was for a census. 

I feel bad about, that for space reasons and presumably to keep the story devoid of downers and violence, the Advent story in these calendars generally avoids the side plots with Elizabeth bearing John the Baptist and King Herod having all the children in Bethlehem killed.  Still, the good part is that as an adult, that leaves those parts to be discovered and to enrich appreciation of all the characters and the story.

Ideas that have been proferred to me or have occurred to me:

1. The Facebook version could have art along with the story. Vicki gave a couple of images of her artwork to use. Thanks Vicki!

2. Frieda said cloth Advent Calendars used to be made in the Pawling Avenue Methodist Church in Troy, New York, USA.  She suggested there could be an Irish Advent Calendar wall hanging.  It would have 24 pockets and the script for each day would be put on small papers tucked in one per pocket. The design would be open to interpretation, but with some fine sewing, the result should be pretty and suit the purpose.

3. Make this calendar an instrument of peace and reconciliation among the Irish by making the daily messages in three languages: English, Irish (Gaeilge), and Scottish Gaelic. I think the inclusion of all three languages would be very symbolic of the peace that is possible if all the sides of the Irish conflict cooperate. Anyone know of someone fluent in Scottish Gaelic who could help with this project?

4. My dream would be to sell these Irish Advent Calendars, whether on paper or made of cloth, and donate the proceeds to peace makers in Ireland.

5. A bigger dream would be to make Advent Calendar's in multiple languages whereever there are conflicts between different cultures around the world to spread the feeling of peace.

So much for my Irish Advent Calendar saga.  If you have an idea of how to spread the Irish Advent Calendar or Advent Calendars elsewhere, leave a comment to this blog, or contact me at shamrockroad(at symbol here)gmail.com .

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or a merry whatever holiday you celebrate to praise or respect God.

Rod / RuairĂ­

Irish Advent Calendar

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