Did the medieval Templars celebrate Christmas?

Did the medieval Templars celebrate Christmas?

"In 337, Pope Julius I was the first to declare that Jesus was born on 25 December. In 506, the Council of Agde made this a dogmatic obligation, and in 529 the Emperor Justinian declared the Nativity a public holiday. But the festival celebrating the Nativity only really took off in the Middle Ages with the spread of Christianity. The very word Christmas became an exclamation of joy, uttered by jubilant crowds on special occasions: births, christenings or royal weddings, or the triumphal entry of sovereigns into a city.

The nativity scene and midnight mass also date back to medieval times. Very early on, the first Christians venerated the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem, and pilgrims came to pay their respects in the grotto and in front of the cot that, according to Christian tradition, housed the Infant Jesus.

In 1223, St Francis of Assisi was the first to celebrate midnight mass in front of a stable where people and animals re-enact the Nativity scene. From the 13th century onwards, the Mysteries, living tableaux depicting the life of Jesus, included nativity scenes in their representations. These then appeared at the entrance and in the choir of churches, before spreading, in miniature form, into homes. Made up of small figures in glass or porcelain, they were initially the preserve of the very wealthy. The appearance of figures modelled in breadcrumbs or clay enabled them to spread to all regions of France. (...)

When the Primitive Rule was drawn up in 1129 at the Council of Troyes, the various feasts to be celebrated by the House of the Temple were listed in article 75. The feast of the Nativity of Our Lord (25 December) is listed first. The Templars therefore celebrated the birth of Jesus as prescribed in their rule. However, we currently have no document indicating whether the Knights Templar organised a specific ceremony for Christmas Day."

This blog quotes an English translation by TN, with minor alterations, of part of the blog Les Templiers célébraient-ils Noël? published by templedeparis.jimdo.com.  The illustration shows a miniature of the Nativity from a Gospel Lectionary, southern Germany, 12th century: BL MS Egerton 809, f. 1v, source believed to be available in Public Domain under a CC-BY licence

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