There is something quite marvelous that has happened every Christmas Eve in Finland since the early 14th century: it is simply known as the Declaration of Peace. It is accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments including drums, choral singing, and even symphonic strings. What is it? It is basically a highly anticipated announcement made in the old capital of Turku that attests and demands everyone to act with peace and love during the Christmas Season.
Here is the actual text: “Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behavior shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offense separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.”
This Declaration helps us understand and work for the meanings found in our Readings today: “On that day, The branch of the LORD will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel,” and in the Responsorial Psalm: “Because of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’” The great Season of Advent attempt the same as the Finnish declaration: we are called to people of peace and comfort for each other and we are to be people of faith and hope that call upon the name of Christ in every situation. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”
“Peace on earth will come to stay when we live Christmas every day.” Helen Steiner Rice