Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
There are hundreds of Christmas songs and hymns. They come in all different shapes and sizes and they range from fun to reverence. You may have heard of a song titled, “Mary, Did You Know?” It’s about the amazing things Jesus did and questions if Mary knew after giving birth that her son would: walk on water, bring the dead to life, give blind men sight, heal the lame… “Did you know your baby boy was Lord of all creation?”
When I first heard it, I thought it was odd that there would be a song about the Panagia from a perspective that she was truly surprised by Christ. Tradition teaches that the Virgin Mary was raised in the Temple and that the Angels kept her company. I imagine there were a few things she did know and that after a virgin birth, she was no longer surprised by much. You might say, she had “seen it all.”
Speaking of Mary, did you know that the day after Christmas we celebrate the Synaxis of the Virgin Mary?
Father Alexander Schmemann, in the Services of Christmas (1981) wrote about the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos…
“… Combining the hymns of the Nativity with those celebrating the Mother of God, the Church points to Mary as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. His humanity—concretely and historically—is the humanity He received from Mary. His body is, first of all, her body. His life is her life. This feast, the assembly in honor of the Theotokos, is probably the most ancient feast of Mary in the Christian tradition, the very beginning of her veneration by the Church.
Here are the lyrics to the hymn for her feast:
Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos
He, who was begotten of the Father before the morning star, without a mother, becomes incarnate of you today, without a father. Wherefore, a star announces the good news to the Magi. Angels with shepherds praise your immaculate birth-giving, O Full of Grace.
Furthermore, did you know that on the islands in Greece, the Marys, Marias, Panayiotis and Petes all celebrate on the Synaxis of the Virgin Mary, December 26, as opposed to the more commonly observed date of her Dormition?
May the Virgin Mary embolden us when we are asked to do the impossible.
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