Happy New Year! Happy Eighth Day of Christmas!
Christmas is actually a season in the church year that begins on Christmas Day and continues twelve days until January 5th. So, according to the old song about the “Twelve Days of Christmas” this is “8 Maids a Milking” day.
“Back before refrigeration drinking milk was a luxury because it quickly spoiled. In more ancient days, owning animals that produced milk was a great sign of wealth. For example, the Bible describes the incredible wealth of Job by stating he owned “five hundred female donkeys” (Job 1:3). In Job’s day, donkey milk was only for the very rich. And by mentioning “maids” (young unmarried women), the song has love and romance in mind. In 15th and 16th century England, the phrase “let’s go-a-milking” was a euphemism for “let’s get married.’” https://revkev43.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/eight-maids-a-milking/
So I guess it depends on whether you were looking for prosperity, matrimony or just a drink, whether you were more excited by the gifts of a small herd of cattle, eligible young women or a lifetime supply of milk.
Eight is the number of beatitudes, the blessings that Jesus pronounces at the beginning of The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). “Blessed are the poor in spirit…. “Blessed are those who mourn….” What a great way to mark the New Year. Rather than making resolutions to “fix” something in our lives, the eighth day is a day to be blessed just as we are. It is a day to experience the riches God lavishes upon us. How is God blessing you today, nourishing your spirit, making God’s love flesh in you?
The Eighth Day itself is important to Christians. Jesus rose from the tomb on the Eighth Day. Sunday, the first day of the new week, is a new beginning. If you look at our baptismal font in the sanctuary it has eight sides because baptism is a new beginning in the blessedness of God.
In this long COVID winter let this be the Eighth Day, the day which begins in mourning what we have lost and moves to the joy of resurrection. May it be a day to simply be blessed and to see God’s blessing in the most unlikely places in the world.