THE SHEPHERDS' MASS

The Wigilia festivities break up in time for Midnight Mass - the "Pasterka" or "Shepherd's Mass." Here the ancient koledy are again performed. Before midnight, windows illuminated by the glow of Christmas tree candles, light the way for numerous throngs coming to church from all directions, for the Shepherds' Mass (Pasterka), taking place at midnight on Christmas Eve. Joy is supreme when the mightiest organs and orchestras resound their song after the silence of Advent. "In the still of the night, a voice is heard: Arise, O shepherds, for unto you God is born!" "God is born, the powers tremble..." All the churches are adorned with evergreens, a tiny creche with a miniature Jesus is placed on the altar, sometimes on the tabernacle. Off to the side, one finds a much larger, colorful Nativity scene, the delight of all the children, who in it can wiew everything the adults ever told them about Christmas: Tiny Jesus laying in a stable, shivering from the cold. His dear mother is unable to cover Him with anything because she was so poor. There is St. Joseph, the shepherds, the angel and a little later on, the Three Wise Men bearing gifts.

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