Christmas - Church year 


Birth of Jesus Christ - Icon

Icon - Birth of Jesus Christ (Russian, 16th century)


Meditatively simple, light-filled Christmas icon! Mary gave everything, she gave birth to Christ. She rests in purple on a red, her legs wrapped in purple, her arms on her body, her gaze directed at Joseph.

Joseph is lost in thought, before him the tempter dressed like Papageno (Mozart). Or is the searching man from the cosmos? Or the prophet Isaiah "The young woman will conceive and bear a son..."? In any case, Mary's gaze radiates security and faith in the middle.  She seeks Joseph to convince him and all of us: "Today the Savior is born!

Paradisiacal trees and plants as well as animals can be seen in the field. The mountains rise up into the sky - out of the heavenly segment the Holy Spirit appears, who points to the center of the earth in a triune form: a cave with the child in a grave-like manger. Ox and donkey are the only representatives of the cosmos at Christ's manger - and grave! Christ is born in that cave which is our deepest depths, where nightmares torture us or fear and guilt of conscience. There he redeems and heals our lives through death and grave! This is the innermost part of the icon, the core of our contemplation!

Above, angels sing the praise of God in eternity, with veiled hands as a sign of reverence. Above right, one of the angels turns to the shepherds for the heavenly message, sparsely but expressively depicted in this picture. The shepherd on the right responds with a trumpet blow that the plant of paradise is bending away. Like the wise men (astrologers) on the left with their typical Babylonian caps, the shepherds come to the manger and worship.

At the bottom right, two maidens bathe the child - "Truly become human"! - in the foreground the nurse Susanne, who already has her dress open to lay the child against her breast.

Secondary scenes are often inserted, especially about John the Baptist. But the essential is better, it helps us to meditate: without details, without words, without images - the child teaches us. 


A "classical" image of worship -
 Bruges 1476

My advice: 10 minutes time,

with finger and look in the portrait

transfer the notes below!

Hugo van der Goes, Adoration of the Angels and shepherds

Hugo van der Goes, Adoration of the shepherds, 1476 (253 x 304 cm, Uffizi Florence)

Client: Tommaso Portinari, banker of the Medici (Florence) in Bruges


Keywords for the picture of van der Goes

Mary and Joseph - adoring.

Joseph - shoe:
        Allusion to Moses in front of burning thorn bush
        ("Take off your shoes, this is holy ground!")

Christmas - Hugo van der Goes shepherds

Child in a halo, on the floor - crib.    

Stable and city, open composition.    

In front grain (bread) and flowers.    

Angels on the lower right    
and upper left with brocade dresses.    

All angels are amazed and worship!    

The shepherd's field (top right).    

Shepherds from the people,    

      they hear, believe, come,    
     kneel, worship    

Ox and donkey.    

Column in front left. Landscape in the back.

Perspective (size, colors, meaning).

Eyes, faces and hands.

Light and shadow.

Clothes - folds and fabrics.

     Christmas adoration - Silence - everything worships.

I bend down to you,
I turn to you,
I like you, kid,
and I love you!
I pray to the power of the lib
I pray

I pray,

I bend down to you,

I turn to you,

I like you, kid,

and I love you!



  Christmas - Adoration of Kings Rogier van der Weyden

Birth of Jesus Christ - Chrismas

Rogier van der Weyden, Adoration (1455)


The Three Kings are portraits of the last great dukes of Burgundy - 
John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold.



Christmas customs

Christmas customs

in the families

Icon from Ethiopia
Pictures, cribs and icons

This icon from Ethiopia

The oldest crib - Greece before 400
One of the oldest depictions of the birth of Christ, Greece around 400.

The solitude of the divine child in our cosmos is impressive!

Roman crib representation (5th century)

Old Roman manger representation (5th century). The warm breath of the ox and donkey and the love of the poor shepherds protect the child - besides this representation (not visible) Mary proudly shows the three kings the ruler of the world.


The dream of kings - Christmas crib
Stone carvings around 1200. The three kings sleep until the angel wakes them vigorously. High art in the details (Autun, Burgundy).


Flight to Egypt
Flight to Egypt - a migrant family even then. Attentive and concentrated Josef, joyful and almost in the dance step of the donkey.


Mary and Joseph in search of a hostel - but there was no place for them in the city of Bethlehem.


Two shepherds set out to find the divine child.


An artistically crafted nativity scene in the shape of a pyramid from the Seven Mountains in the Czech Republic. When the candles are lit, the crib dances with its figures (upcurrent) - what a joy for the children.